In the opening scene of the play,in his long reply to Paddy, Yank emphatically states where he really belongs:"You (Paddy) don't belong no more see....I (Yank) belong and he don't. He's dead but I'm livin'. I'm part of de engines!........I'm steam and oil for de engines......And i'm what makes iron into steel...And I'm steel-steel-steel! I'm de muscles in steel, de punch behind it!"
In the final scene after Yank has been crushed to death by the gorilla Yank remarks where he actually belongs: 'In de cage, hugh?" and the stage direction reads: "And, perhaps, the Hairy Ape at last belongs."
Oneill's "Hairy Ape" is a harsh satire on the evil effects of industrialisation. The play reveals step by step how Yank who has been rendered almost neanderthal like by working endless hours stoking coal in the engine room of a steamer regresses into an actual ape with tragic consequences.