The story is set in a little southern town in the USA. I reckon the plot happens in the 40s or 50s.
The author tells us how the life in this town is. She does it using five main characters. There is a central character called Mr Singer who is deaf-mute. This is very important for the novel structure. Thanks to being a deaf-mute he gets on with the other main characters because he always gives them his attention and never bores them with his conversation.