At 10 years old, Owen becomes a ragged orphan when his mother dies. Abusive next-door neighbors the Conways take him in, and by 17, Owen has learned that might is right. At 25, he's a career gangster: loitering, gambling and drinking in dens of iniquity. Marie Deering arrives in Owen's area, eager to empower the impoverished, gang-affiliated youth through education. Owen slowly but surely leaves his old life behind, choosing the narrow path- all the while falling in love with Marie. Skinny, who's taken over Owen's role in the gang, reappears to him, spelling trouble.