While protecting his friend from a school bully, sixteen-year-old Wei Bu pushes the bully down a staircase. He later learns that the bully is hospitalized, gravely injured. Wei's neighbor, 60-year-old Wang Jin, decides to join him as does Huang Ling, Wei's classmate. Together, they decide their only hope is to flee town. They board a bus to Manchuria, where it is a rumored that a circus elephant is said to be sitting still, seeming oblivious to pain and tribulations of the world at large.