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Henry Miller, an impoverished American expatriate, lives a meager existence in Paris. His wife, Mona, arrives and spends her first night in Paris in Henry's bug-ridden bed. Unable to bear his disgusting lifestyle, Mona leaves the next day. Relying on each of his friends to provide one meal a week for him, Henry soon begins to irritate his hosts, and the invitations become less frequent. When Sylvester, one of Henry's benefactors, discovers that his friend is repaying the kindness by making love to his wife, Henry's meals are abruptly curtailed. Henry then takes a job teaching school in Dijon but becomes bored with the provincial town and begins to give his boys lessons in female anatomy. As soon as he is offered a job as a proofreader for the Paris Herald , Henry leaves Dijon and moves in with his friend Fillmore and his Russian mistress. He helps another friend, Carl, write letters to a wealthy widow, and Carl succeeds in beginning a courtship with the older woman. Meanwhile, Fillmore has developed problems with another woman, Ginette, who is pregnant and trying to trap him into marriage. Henry sends him back to New York to escape, and as Henry bids him farewell, Fillmore gives him a large sum of money to be delivered to Ginette. With no intention of parting with the money, Henry happily walks through the streets of Paris.