The story is set during a workers' strike in Nantes in 1955. Steel worker François Guilbaud is one of the strikers, and he rents a room from Margot Langlois, a widow who sympathizes with the strikers although she is he...展开rself upper-class. He has a pregnant girlfriend named Violette Pelletier, to whom he becomes less and less attracted, and abandons. When he tries to defend his behaviour, she feels she is treated even more unjustly. He meets Edith Leroyer, a beautiful working-class girl who is unhappily married to a rich but impotent and neurotic merchant, and a part-time prostitute. Unbeknownst to him she is the daughter of the widow. He first meets her in the street and one night she shows up in his room, wearing only her fur coat. They fall instantly in love, but their great passion lasts only one night, for during the demonstration he is shot by the police and dies in Edith's arms.