Stanley (Robert De Niro), an odd-job worker, has grown up unable to read. Iris (Jane Fonda), a working-class mother and widow, is trapped in a job squirting goo on cookies in a bakery, while supporting a pregnant teenager, an abused sister and a grieving son. Then she meets Stanley, who supports his aging father. Iris lets it slip that Stanley is illiterate, and he is fired. Unable to support his father, the old man is put in a home where he fades rapidly. Realizing that if he had only been able to read he could have continued to support his father, Stanley asks Iris to teach him to read. It’s a tough road for both of them: Stanley has real learning problems, and Iris does not exactly have a load of extra time on her hands. But they will make it…a small but triumphant victory in a gray world.