Sydney, Australia, is the big smoke that envelops the many lives that are a part of Jack Johnson's growing up there. Told in a series of episodes this begins with Chiddy Hay's ambition to find a champ and miss out when young Tarcutta refuses to become a prizefighter, and ends, years later, with the discovery of Chiddy's stories by a newspaperman. In between are the stories of young Jack's birth, the knocks and bumps of his childhood, a steeplejack's devotion to a girl seen in a window, a good priest's intervention to help Jack, the fate that overcomes a Jewish second hand dealer, and the murder that Jack is harried into. There's also a street sweeper, a small restaurant keeper, a young newspaper boy, and Jack's final happy ending with a girl whose color matches his. The conglomerate that makes up a big city, from aboriginal to white, evil to good, and youth to age, has a sense of panorama, always colored by the Big Smoke, which is seen and recorded with observant detail.