A woman marries to get out of a poor neighborhood and then is wooed by a wealthy ship owner, who is superior to her devious husband.
Jessica Cassidy (Joan Crawford) dislikes working in a factory and resents her mother (Elisabeth Risdon) giving gas-bill money to her snide brother Clifford (Leo Gorcey). Jessie goes out with Eddie Miller (Alan Curtis) and begs him to take her away and marry her right away. John L. Hennessey (Spencer Tracy) tells his workers his shipping plans. On Hester St. Hennessey buys champagne for the wedding feast of Jessie and Eddie, who lets him dance with Jessie. She sings "Always and Always" to Eddie as they dance. Jessie likes Eddie's place and goes to work in the morning. Jessie gets a job in a show. At Hennessey's party Hennessey kisses Jessie, but she slaps him and walks out. Hennessey goes with her. Eddie tells Jessie to pay for the apartment, and they have to leave. Eddie tells Jessie that he lost his boxer's contract in a crap game. During a show Jessie learns that Eddie needs $100; but she can't borrow it because the show is closing. Jessie calls on Hennessey, who gives her $100, and they get Eddie out of jail. Hennessey offers Eddie a job, but they quarrel. Jessie stays loyal to Eddie, but her mother says she is strong and should get what she wants. To get money Eddie suggests that Jessie marry Hennessey for six months. Jessie objects and leaves Eddie.
Briggs (Ralph Morgan) tells Hennessey his men might strike. Jessie returns the $100 to Hennessey; but she won't go out with him. Hennessey sends a detective to find her. Eddie calls on Hennessey and tells him where to find Jessie. Hennessey goes to a fashion show to see her working as a mannequin. At dinner Hennessey offers Jessie clothes and a car and then proposes. Eddie tells Jessie that she can't marry Hennessey unless she pays him. Hennessey and Jessie go to Paris for a divorce and marriage. They are happy in Ireland. Jessie gets a cablegram from Briggs for Hennessey to return right away. At the boat Briggs tells Hennessey of the strike. Jessie calls on Eddie, who is bootlegging, and tells him to lay off, because she will leave Hennessey if he goes to him. Hennessey tells his workers he and they will be bankrupt. Hennessey sells his ships to pay his debts. He finds that Jessie is leaving, and she says it is like business. Eddie comes in and wishes them luck, because Hennessey is broke. Jessie explains Eddie's plot to Hennessey, who gets angry; but Jessie decides to stay and tells Hennessey to work while she takes care of him. In the final scene they embrace.
This drama portrays how the desire to get out of poverty can express in varying ways. Jessie realizes from her parents' examples and her hasty marriage that women do not have to be weak especially when their husbands are.