What to Do? a novel is a single, unified work made up of a number of mostly inter-linked parts all bearing, in one way or another, on the question, What are we to do with our lives? One character who re-appears at different points in the book is a middle-aged, rural widow whose son has mentioned to her that no one ever seems to have written out--spelled out--all the numbers from one to one million. Alone and with time on her hands, she sets out to do that. Another character is a southern black man who served in World War ii. He returns home and eventually builds a personal library of books, an act that both wins him praise and a good deal of trouble. Yet another character is a Native American from the southwest who, as a very young man attempts to heed a vision he has received from a Nighthawk, and, later in life, attempts to replace that vision with something more positive. Other characters also appear as they "do" one thing or another.