After two years in jail, Homer Hobbs, returns to his bleak urban home during the depths of the Great Depression. Sadly he discovers that life on the outside can be crueler than the backbreaking injustice of a chain gang. With no job, no prospects and no hope – Homer finds a kinship with four strangers: Benny, the street hustler eager to begin life anew in the sunshine of Florida; the suicidal Clarence, a nobody who aches to be somebody; Gracie, the despairing owner of a boarding house who lives with a secret; and Lucy, who harbors a mysterious past that threatens the lives of those she has come to love. Life is grim. But on Sunday nights, in a dingy hall, the men of the neighborhood piece together the finest attire their meager lives can beg, borrow or steal to compete in an unusual fashion contest. The big winner will go home with the five dollar prize. The real prize – far less tangible, yet priceless – is the chance to feel like a king, if just for an evening. To men like these, the touch of a woman, the adulation of the crowd, the feel of a fine-looking suit are proof enough that a man might yet escape the debasement of the Depression.