Selina D'arry, an 18 year-old southerner of the lower classes, lives with her mother Rose-ann, who works in a ladies' Room, and her grandfather Ole Pa, who works in a Mens' Room and gets drunk every night. Selina was blinded at age 5 when her mother accidentally threw acid at her while having a fight with Harry, Selina's father who had returned home unexpectedly to find Rose-ann with one of many male friends and was subsequently taken away by the police, never to be seen again. Selina, who has never been outside of her fetid living quarters, spends her days cleaning, cooking, trying to withstand the physical and mental blows inflicted by Rose-ann and Ole Pa, and stringing beads for a kind Polish immigrant. One day, Selina is taken to the park for the first time, meets Gordon, a sensitive 30-year-old man who works on a newspaper at night, and she begins exploring the delights of nature, friendship and, eventually, love. The story has a very startling surprise ending when Gordon turns out to be a Negro; social circumstances make it obvious that Selina will never see Gordon again, although he has arranged for Selina to escape from her background and be taken care of by people who will arrange for her education. As social criticism, this first novel tends to substitute caricatures and stereotypes for characters, sentimentality for sentiment, and cliche situations for plot, thereby failing to evoke the urgent immediacy of a good social novel.