Selina D'Arcey, an 18-year-old girl accidentally blinded by her mother, Rose-Ann, in a family quarrel 13 years ago, lives in a shabby tenement with her prostitute mother and alcoholic grandfather, Ole Pa. She never leaves the apartment, has never attended school, knows nothing about braille, and spends her days cleaning, cooking, and stringing beads. When Ole Pa offers to take her to the park one morning and pick her up on his way home from work, Selina eagerly agrees. In the park she screams when a caterpillar lands on her shoulder, and Gordon Ralfe, a friendly young black man comes to her aid. They become friends, and Selina persuades Ole Pa to take her to the park every day. When Gordon introduces Selina to his brother Mark, Mark tries to discourage the couple's friendship. Then Sadie, an aging prostitute neighbor, sees the two together and tells Rose-Ann. Rose-Ann starts to beat Selina and tries to explain Gordon's racial difference, but Selina is unmoved. Gordon arranges to have Selina admitted to a school for the blind, a plan that interferes with Rose-Ann and Sadie's plan to start a whorehouse with Selina as a special attraction. Selina recalls to Gordon the last image she remembers seeing, a patch of blue sky, and tells him that one of her mother's customers raped her when she was 5 years old. Gordon insists upon removing her from the tenement into the school but will not marry her until she experiences other people and knows her mind more fully. Though Selina wants to marry Gordon, she heeds his advice and enters the school.