In 1951, the second year of the Korean War, a studious, law-abiding, and intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner, begins his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio's Winesburg College. And why is he there and not at a local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hardworking neighborhood butcher, seems to have gone mad""mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees in every corner for his beloved boy. Far from Newark, Marcus has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world.
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