Marvin, a heavy-drinking widower who has seen better days and now ekes out a living at odd jobs, meets Tige, an 11-year-old black boy about to kill himself because his mother has just died. With nowhere else to stay, Tige moves in with Marvin and they develop a close (if sometimes stormy) relationship which is good for both of them. Marvin wants to adopt Tige but knows that he is too poor to give him a good home, as becomes painfully clear when Tige catches pneumonia. Then he discovers who Tige's father is: a rich suburbanite who doesn't even know that Tige exists. Should he, and can he, give up the boy he loves, and who loves him, in favor of a stranger with the right genes and bank balance but who doesn't care?