When he reaches age 18, Peter is released from the children's home where he grew up, but this does not mean he is truly ready for adult life.
Peter joins a building brigade, where he meets Marlies, also raised in a children's home, as well as Sabine, a teachers' daughter with a privileged upbringing. In spite of their different backgrounds, Sabine falls in love with Peter. Devastated by Peter's inability to commit, Sabine hides the fact that she is pregnant with his child and at her parents' insistance, she marries Christoph, a student with a good future.
Irresponsible use of a company vehicle lands Peter in a juvenile detention center. There, he finds support and even love from his probation officer Margot, but she breaks off the relationship when she discovers that Peter is a father. These experiences ultimately lead Peter to recognize his responsibilities to Sabine and his child.