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In 1943, during World War II, Sergeant Larry Nevins is hit by German sniper fire in North Africa. He regains consciousness after he has been rescued and finds that his eyes are enclosed in a head dressing. He is sent back to the U.S. so that the damage to his eyes can be assessed. On the plane, Larry, a Southerner from the small town of Semolina in the northern part of Florida, chats amicably with a soldier from Atlanta, until he realizes that the other soldier is black. Larry then abruptly ends the conversation. At the Valley Forge General Hospital in Pennsylvania, where 2,000 blind soldiers learn to adjust to their condition, Larry is told that he will never see again. He makes his way to the bathroom, intending to cut his wrists, but is stopped by Corporal John Flagg. Lt. Atkins, Larry's superior officer, demands that he inform his parents of his condition, and when Larry refuses, threatens to tell them himself. Humiliated, Larry lets his mother know he is blind. Atkins then reveals that he, too, is blind, and Larry apologizes. During an obstacle test, Larry learns that he can sense a wall ahead of him before he reaches it. Excited about this newfound ability, he calls his mother to boast. Larry becomes friends with Joe Morgan, a soldier from New Orleans, who, unknown to Larry, is black. At a dance, he meets Judy Greene, whom he earlier insulted in a bar when he thought she was trying to pick him up. They spend an enjoyable evening together, but he admits that he has a girl friend, Chris Paterson, in Florida. The day before Joe is to leave for home on furlough, Larry comments that among the new men arriving the next day are three "niggers." Offended by Larry's bigotry, Joe reveals that he is black, and after Joe leaves, the other men in his ward stop speaking to Larry. When Larry complains that Joe should have told him he was black, Flagg asks if he intends to ask the race or religion of everyone he meets before deciding whether he likes them, and advises Larry to learn to trust what he feels about people. Two days before he is to visit his home, Larry spends a weekend at a cabin with Judy, her sister Janet, and Janet's husband, Bill Grayson. Bill, a Philadelphia lawyer, encourages Larry to study law, telling him of a colleague, Jess Coe, who has been blind since World War I and is one of the best trial lawyers in the city. Larry is unsure of his own capabilities, however. That night, Larry discovers for the first time that Judy loves him. When she kisses him, he pulls away, saying he still loves Chris and that he needs the security of a life with Chris, the daughter of a wealthy barrel manufacturer. Later, in Seminola, he rebukes his mother when she makes a disparaging remark about "our nigras." Alone with his father, Larry talks about his broken friendship with Joe and complains that his mother taught him her way of thinking about blacks. His father explains that she herself was taught by others to think that way and thanks his son for fighting in the war and helping to change the world. The next night, at Chris's party for him, Larry becomes upset when a clergyman suggests that a miracle may allow him to see. When he is alone with Chris, he asks that they take things slow and not talk about his blindness and their plans yet. During the month at home, Larry finds his small town less hospitable than Valley Forge, where people are used to living with the blind. Although he plans to marry Chris at Christmas, he does not want to accept a job in the Paterson barrel factory, which Chris's father plans to give him for his daughter's sake. A few days before he is to leave for Avon, Connecticut to learn an occupation, Larry tries to convince Chris that he would rather get his own job than accept one offered out of charity. After thinking about their situation, Chris says she is not strong enough for what he has in mind, and they break their engagement. On his way to Avon, Larry stops at the train station in Philadelphia, where Bill, to whom Larry sent a telegram, meets him and takes him to Coe's home. Coe tells Larry that he succeeded in law school because he was able to concentrate better than the other students, and because his dedicated wife read the law books, which were not available in Braille, aloud to him. Back at the station, Larry is disheartened that Judy, to whom he also sent a telegram, is not there, but she arrives just before the train leaves, and they hug. Larry admits he looked for security in the wrong place and realizes now that he has to make it for himself. They decide that they will find their way together, and that he will become a lawyer. At the train, Larry hears Joe's name. The two men agree to be friends, and sit together during the train trip to Avon.