Coming of age is a theme in the book. Beginning with his earliest memories, Camara Laye takes readers through his childhood and finishes his tale as he flies into adulthood, leaving his parents and childhood on a different continent. Laye begins as a toddler, innocent of the danger that faces him as he plays with a snake in his father's forge. From that first chapter on, each chapter contains some lesson learned, some rite of passage to advance the coming of age theme. With each chapter he gets wiser and older, if not humbler.