The scene is Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the early stages of World War II. Seventeen-year-old Gavin enlists in the war effort to escape the responsibility of continuing his education and getting "a real job". Gavin joins the A.R.P. He has a totally negative self-image and convinces himself that he is just "a second son that will never amount to anything". He'll never be as successful as his older brother Owen, and will never meet his father's expectations of him. Gavin's adolescent fantasies of power and achievement - sometimes sexual, sometimes iconoclastic - always rest on a knife-edge of indecision and powerlessness, of shame and humiliation. But these fantasies, and his father's equally self-serving political/philosophical beliefs are put to the test when the bombs fall. It seems that Hitler has found Ireland on the map! This changes everything.