This novel tells the story of Pablo, a young man from Turin at the beginning of the Second World War. Initially he drifts around, though he has a job working in the family shop. His best friend, Amelio, has been badly injured in a motorcycle accident and Pablo starts an affair with Linda, Amelio’s girlfriend, though he does have a guilty conscience about betraying Amelio. Through Linda he meets Lubriani, a theatrical impresario and the group of actors who revolve around him. However, he continues to be unsure of where he is going in life. He works as a truck driver and continues with Linda.
Things change in the second part, when he decides to leave Turin for Rome. He acquires a new girlfriend, Gina, but, in particular starts to acquire a political consciousness, realising the dangers of Fascism. He starts to study politics and when he goes to work in a bicycle shop, he meet members of the underground. Though he is arrested, he is released for lack of evidence and sent back to Turin. While Pavese clearly wanted to show the need for the development of a political consciousness, the second part seems less interesting than the first, as it becomes more political and less literary. Though not his finest work, it is still an interesting novel.