As do all people, the characters in Shanty Town change with the passage of time; none remain stagnant. Underlying the personal struggle of bigotry, family conflict, physical limitations, and socio-economic oppression is the age-old contest between love and fear. Some characters fail to recognize the common threads that tie all people together while others slowly understand that all of us are capable of personal growth, even against all odds.
Supporting the plot is the richness of two cultures, that of the African-American southerner of post-Civil War days and the dominant culture of the rural Deep South. In the African-Americans we witness an undying devotion to spirituality and their unwillingness to give in to a world of fear. We recognize sights and sounds in the shanty town residents that mirror those heard in the civil rights movement of the 1950ís and 60ís. The passion of their collective emotions is communicated in their melodious spirituals, their playfulness, and even in their resistance. In the white culture of the Cassville residents we see how people struggle to define what is right, even if it means masking their fears by overpowering the helpless. The storyís two heroes, one an elderly white male and the other a beautiful young African-American female, teach that love is indeed more powerful than fear.