John Singer is a deaf-mute who works as a silver engraver in a southern US town. His only friend is a mentally disabled mute, Spiros Antonapoulos, who continually gets into trouble with the law, since he does not know any better. When Spiros is committed to a mental institution by his cousin, who is his guardian, John offers to become Spiros' guardian, but is told that Spiros will have to go to the institution until this has been arranged. John decides to move to a town near the institution in order to be near his friend. He finds work there and rents a room in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly, who are having financial difficulties as a result of Mr. Kelly's recent hip injury.