Besides the interpersonal dynamics, there is a story about class and race, as the brothers have been cornered, largely by circumstance, into meager, fairly desperate lives with little or no hope of exit beyond hitting it big as a hustler. Booze-or "medicine," as the brothers call it-seems to be the only real escape from their circumstances, and it's only temporary. There are mentions of Lincoln's once more-settled life, married to a woman named Cookie, but even that was destroyed, seemingly, by his inability to transcend the plight bequeathed to him. As the play moves forward, the desperation becomes more pronounced, to the point where a breaking point is inevitable. When that point comes, it is shocking but hardly out of nowhere.