A young white man living in rural upstate New York tries to emulate the African-American culture he adores in this melodrama. Recent high school graduate Seth Carlson secretly dreams of being an art student in Manhattan. Because his father refuses financial aid he cannot and so ends up waiting tables in a small restaurant. In lieu of actually becoming an artist, Seth opts to affect their mannerisms, especially those of African American artists. He even dresses and speaks as they do. One night, as he is closing the restaurant, he is held up by an escaped convict, Knowledge Johnson. The convict is seriously wounded and passes out before he can escape. He is black and Seth, decides to help him by dragging him to an empty shed and nursing him to health. Knowledge is at first wary of Seth's attention. He is also appalled by Seth's obsession. But gradually the two become grudging friends.