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After New Yorker Bill Cummings is discharged from the army, he goes to the U.S. Employment Service Center to apply for a job. Overwhelmed by the paperwork and the number of other unemployed veterans there, Bill finds himself recalling his past: In 1938, Bill and his girl friend Susan go to Susan's older sister Martha's for dinner. While the harried Martha, who is meeting Bill for the first time, advises Susan to wait before marrying, Hank Beesley, Martha's chatty, out-of-work husband, discusses his domestic theories with machinist Bill. Later that day, Bill proposes to Susan, but states that he may not be able to make her happy. Despite Bill's apprehensions about his economic future, Susan accepts his proposal, and the newlyweds relish the first blissful days of their married life. Soon, however, Bill is laid off from his factory job when his employer goes bankrupt, and he is unable to find another. Although Susan's job as a bookstore clerk covers most of their bills, Bill is humiliated by his situation, especially after Hank and Martha's young son Timmy offers to beg for a soup bone from the local butcher because he believes that Bill "doesn't know where his next meal is coming from." Determined to help her husband, Susan, an aspiring artist, convinces her boss, Hinkler, to hire Bill to illustrate a book he is publishing. Bill receives a fifty dollar advance and eagerly executes the assignment. Bill and Susan's modest prosperity is short-lived, however, as Bill is arrested on obscenity charges. Unknown to Bill, the text of Hinkler's book contains censorable material, and he is advised by Martha's lawyer brother-in-law Jake to plead guilty and receive probation. Now broke and jobless, the couple is forced to move into a tenement. Despite their poverty, Bill gives Susan a bracelet for their first anniversary with money he collected by pawning his tool box. Soon after, Bill's union notifies him that a munitions factory job is available but requires that he bring his own tools. With help from Martha and Hank's miserly mother, Bill collects enough cash to reclaim his tool box and happily returns to work. Once back on their feet, Bill and Susan discuss the possibility of starting a family, but their plans are waylaid when Bill is inducted into the army at the start of World War II. Back in the employment office, where he has been telling the end of his story to various sympathetic employees, Bill is finally awarded a job interview. As Bill rushes to the Beesleys' with his good news, Susan confides to Martha that she is pregnant. Although Bill confesses that he is scared, both he and Susan face the future together with hope.