The sailor, Martin Eden (Luca Marinelli), descends from Naples, working class, but his fate is changed forever when he defends a young boy from a beating by a security guard on the docks. The boy repays him for his kindness by inviting him into his bourgeois home, and it is there that Eden meets Elena (Jessica Cressy), the daughter of an upper-crust industrial family. It is love at first sight for Eden. He resolves to become an accomplished writer to elevate himself to the family’s social standing and eventually marry her. He proves himself quickly as an autodidact, but grapples with social politics. His pursuit of his individual success is in conflict with his humble origins and the proletariat’s cause. Left-wing journalist, Russ Brissenden (Carlo Cecchi), guides him deeper into socialist circles, resulting not only in a political reawakening and destructive anxiety, but also to a severing with Elena and her elite world.