Much of the narrative can be seen as a metaphor for our choices and the consequences of those choices. When Robert's weaknesses prompt him to make the wrong choices, he must suffer the consequences. When he gets involved in fights, usually over a woman, he lands in jail. His final choice, to go out in back of the House Party Club with Beatrice, proves fatal. Robert understands that he has betrayed Ida Mae but only shrugs sheepishly in response. His inability to stop his roving eye or even to try to persuade Ida Mae that he will in the future stay faithful to her unleashes her wrath, and she poisons him. Ironically, by the end of the story, Robert sings the title song but with one important word change. "Hellhound on my trail" has now become "Hellbound on my trail," suggesting that Robert is the only one to blame for his tragic end. He has been bound for hell from the beginning.