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During World War I, Lieutenant Roger Winston is assigned to capture a German prisoner. Overcome by fear, he hides in a foxhole while Tom Holmes, another soldier from the same town, carries out the mission. On the way back, Tom is struck by a shell and Roger returns with the prisoner. Roger is promoted and decorated for bravery. Returning to America after the war, Roger meets Tom, who he believed to be dead. Tom's life was saved by the Germans, but in the prisoner of war camp, he took morphine for his pain and is now addicted to the drug. Roger gets Tom a job in his father's bank, but his addiction gets him fired. He is sent to a sanitarium where he overcomes his addiction but in the meantime, his mother dies from the disgrace. Tom goes to Chicago to look for a job and there he meets Ruth, a young woman who works in a laundry. They fall in love, marry, and have a child. Max, a socialist who lives in the same roominghouse, invents a laundry machine. Tom, who is now employed at the laundry, convinces his fellow workers to invest in the machine, but when the benevolent laundry owner dies, the new owners use the machine to lay off workers. The fired workers riot, Ruth is killed, and Tom is sent to prison for five years, even though he tried to prevent the mob from attacking the laundry. Max makes a lot of money from his invention and gives half to Tom as his share. Tom will not touch what he calls blood money and turns it over to Mary Dennis, the owner of his roominghouse, to feed the jobless. Believing Tom to be a Communist, the police drive him out of town, and he becomes a homeless wanderer unable to find a job. On the road, he meets Roger, whose father's bank failed because of mismanagement. Although the police drive them back on the road, the two veterans express hope that President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal will improve the lot of the poor.