It is 1951 in America, the second year of the Korean War. A studious, law-abiding, intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner is beginning his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio's Winesburg College. And why is he here and not at a local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hardworking neighbourhood butcher seems to have gone mad - mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees in the every corner for his beloved boy. So Marcus leaves and, far from home, has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world.
Indignation is the story of a young man's education in life's terrifying chances and bizarre obstructions. It is a story of inexperience, foolishness, intellectual resistance, sexual discovery, courage and error, told with all the inventive energy and with Roth has at his command.