The story centers on Maggie, a young girl from the Bowery who is driven to unfortunate circumstances by poverty and solitude. The story opens with Jimmie, Maggie's brother, as he fights a gang of boys from an opposing neighborhood. He is saved by his friend, Pete, and comes home to a brutal and drunken father. As years pass and their father dies, Jimmie hardens into a sneering, aggressive, cynical youth and Maggie begins to work in a shirt factory, but her attempts to improve her life are undermined by her mother's drunken rages. Maggie begins to date Jimmie's friend Pete, who has a job as a bartender and seems a very fine fellow, convinced that he will help her escape the life she leads. He takes her to the theater and the museum, but Jimmie and her mother accuse her of "Goin to deh devil" and throw her out. As the neighbors badmouth Maggie, Pete decides to leave her and she gets scorned by the entire tenement and left on the street.