Everybody in this novel does something they aren't proud of, but there are no clear villains in the traditional sense. Slavery, racism, shame, and secrets are products of the choices people make. Just as no one character in the novel is to blame, and no one person is completely innocent. Jack, Willie, and Cass are concerned with finding and exposing the shameful, buried truth of things. Often, this shameful buried truth is connected to slavery and racism. One of the main questions the novel poses is whether or not America can ever heal from the days of slavery.