May Day begins when a depressed and demoralized Gordon Street arrives at the home of his former Yale roommate, Phil Dean. The conversation that follows revolves around Cordon’s lack of motivation, and more specifically lack of finances. Phil Dean is asked to give Gordon $300 to get his “life in order”. By getting his life together, Gordon means that he needs money to bribe his pregnant girlfriend not to inform his parents about the child.
After careful thought, Dean tells his friend that $300 would be a strain on his finances, but gives him $75. 00, as a sort of consolation. After this point, characters such as Edith Brain, Gus Rose, Carroll Key, and Peter Hummel all present themselves at a Yale fraternity dance. Gus Rose and Carroll Key are World War One veterans who have Just returned to New York from Europe. They have nowhere to go once they get back to New York, however.
Their main objective wrought the story is to consume as much alcohol as is humanly possible, and to laugh in the process. Carroll Key ends up throwing himself out of a window at a riot against socialism. The riot takes place at Edith Bradawl’s brother’s newspaper. In the riot, Edict’s brother’s leg is broken. Edith Brand is a Yale student, and former girlfriend of Cordon’s, who is mentioned by both Gordon Street and Phil Dean. Peter Hummel Is Edict’s escort at the fraternity dance.
However, at the dance Edith abandons him. Peter finds Rose and Key and proceeds to get Intoxicated with them. During the evening Edith runs into Gordon, and after formerly believing that she loved him, discovers that given his current failures at life, he has nothing to offer her. She ends up pursuing various meaningless, physical affairs with men over the course of the night. The story ends after Gordon has a confrontation with Jewel at the party, and takes his own life shortly thereafter.