The grim, drab life of a man who labors in a Po Valley sugar refinery in northern Italy provides the center of this black-and-white drama from Michelangelo Antonioni. The worker lives with a married woman and their young daughter. One day, the woman learns that her legal spouse died. The refinery worker immediately proposes, but she spurns him in favor of another. Deeply depressed, the laborer begins to drift aimlessly across the northern wasteland with his daughter in tow. Along the way, he meets many people, including a woman from his past. Despite his many low-key adventures, he is unable to forget his daughter's mother and so returns to find that she lives in a new home with a new child. The story comes to its climax during a demonstration protesting the building of a U.S. airfield where the refinery stands.