The protagonist seeks to maintain his equanimity at all times of whether life, one who is domiciled in Italy with the purpose of opening a bookstore and form a family, spend little time to fulfill its dream to have a functional business, marry and have a son.
But prior to its official commitment to a waiter in the restaurant where they make friends with a Nazi military who later found in a concentration camp. After their wedding and the birth of his son, will be persecuted by the Nazis for his Jewish origins.
After a couple of visits have the Jew with his son on a train going toward a concentration camp for forced labor and try to kill the child by putting it in the gas chamber, but with creativity and audacity of the parent that does not be possible.
The wife for her part, despite not being Jewish calls for a ride like his family to the concentration camp and forced labor as the other women there confined.
One night Guido Orefice (protagonist) finds the Nazi who met in the restaurant and the waiter asks you to work as a party organized by the commanders of the camp, and he accepts hoping to escape.
The next night the soldiers began to systematically kill people locked up there, but for the inventiveness that characterizes it, Guido manages to save her offspring hiding and telling him not to leave until all leave and the place fell silent. But Guido is caught by the soldiers being shot as a witness the courage and intelligence of a man who knew how to keep alive their son Joshua.
The defeated forces fled the scene leaving Nazi survivors who started out of hiding, American troops arrive at the camp in tanks and the little boy goes to meet them perplexed to see who has won the competition with the plea that his father had borne fruit, the soldier who drove the tank rises and wanders the streets, very happy Joshua does not understand the scale of the tragedy, just know that dreams are fulfilled, and his joy is complete when the crowd sees his mother Dora, and although his father is no longer with them left in the footprint of a living sacrifice and love unobjectionable.