It talks about a multiracial man who was raised by a single mother in his early childhood after they broke up with his father who later moved on to marry another woman. The narrator was not aware of his race until the day when the principle of the public school he as in once entered the class and asked all the white children to stand. The narrator stands but is told by the principle to sit down. The narrator latter goes to work as a cigar maker after his mother dies when he is in high school. He later moves on to New York where he is introduced to ragtime and is employed by a millionaire to play for him. He later goes to tour Europe with the millionaire where his love for music grows even more. He returns to America where he meets a black American where he discusses race with him as well as a school teacher. One characteristic thing is that he discusses issues on race everywhere he goes. He returns to New York where he is accepted as a Whiteman and becomes very successful. He falls in love with a white woman and after confessing about his race to her, she flees but later returns and agrees to marry him. However, his wife dies while she was delivering her second child. The author has been greatly praised as being the only great black artist before 1923.
Race is the predominant topic. It begins by describing how the narrator was not aware of his race in his early childhood days. He did not even understand why his parents had fallen apart until the incident with the principle took place. A white woman was even shot dead because of flirting with him. He is severally discussing the issue of race with different people, and his wife had initially rejected him because of his race.