At the wedding of her former pimp to a country girl, Mamma Roma celebrates her own liberation from a life of reluctant prostitution. She sells vegetables in the outdoor market and dreams of a respectable future for her teenage son, Ettore. Not even her pimp's continuing demands for money can tarnish her hopes. Desperate to save her handsome young son from the various temptations of life in the big city, Mamma Roma blackmails a restaurateur into giving the boy a job. Tragically, her happiness is too brief--her pimp forces Mamma Roma back on the street and Ettore learns of his mother's profession.