In the African-American tenement in Charleston, South Carolina, times are tough. The residents make their living by farming, fishing, and drugs as they struggle their poverty. Their relatively peaceful life is interrupted when Crown, a tough laborer, murders Robbins during a craps game. Crown leaves town and his girlfriend, Bess, ends up with Porgy, a kindly cripple. Porgy, meanwhile, is thrilled that Crown is gone because for a long time he has been in love with Bess. Unfortunately, Crown returns some time later and pressures Bess to return to him. She wants to stay with Porgy but has trouble resisting Crown's charms. In the end, Porgy ends up killing Crown so as to keep Bess.