Freedom (mental, emotional, spiritual and physical) is a theme woven through each character's life. Beginning in the eighteenth century with Muhammad Bilal's capture in Africa and subsequent enslavement, those belonging to the Lewis family are concerned with being free. For Bilal, freedom is a complicated matter. Although the young boy is aware of his enslavement even before reaching the U.S., his determination to stay alive represents an unusual kind of freedom. Muhammad's vow to survive no matter what represents the character's commitment to remaining free in his mind and in his spirit.