An infantile and effeminate young boy slowly grows up with an erratic, mercurial father and an over indulging mother. Unable to make friends when they move to the New World - or apparently even leave the house without a disaster taking place - he takes up a life of sloth and eaves dropping, which allows him to partially overhear his mother confess her darkest secret.
After being enrolled in religious school, where he finally begins to excel at something, his self destructive nature causes him to tell the rabbi that he is a bastard. As he slinks off home, the rabbi, who has made it there before him, tells his mother of his story telling, which causes an intense family crisis. The father becomes enraged, suspecting the boy to have been a bastard all along.
Finally the boy runs aways to the trolley tracks and in a confusing literary passage where the boys subconscious thought become interwoven as a second narrator, the boy is electrocuted, but manages to survive and is brought home with a semblance of reconciliation.