Hepworth said that when she was carving this sculpture she was preoccupied with 'thoughts about Africa and the United Nations'. This may be a reference to racial tensions resulting from the withdrawal of the colonial powers from Africa, and the criticism that apartheid in South Africa attracted. One of Hepworth's friends was Dag Hammarskjöld, the Swedish Secretary-General of the United Nations who was later killed in an air crash. Hepworth wrote that her concern for human suffering and dignity had on occasion lent a certain poignancy to her works. The sculpture appears to represent a human head, heroic in stature and proportion, and emblematic of the universality of suffering.