Lehameau is an ambivalent and contradictory character who enlivens the lives of two children – Annette (aged 14) and Polo (aged 5) – by taking them to the cinema and treating them in other ways, although problems set in when Annette falls in love with him. In fact he's already in love anyway – with the young Enlgish woman Helena Weeds from the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), who is temporarily based in Le Havre. But then, how can a person tell he's in love with someone if he hasn't had sex since his wife died thirteen years before?
And then there are his ideas, his (somewhat paradoxical loathing) of the working class, his wishing that Germany were a protectorate of France, etc. In the end he comes together with Annette and Polo's elder sister Madeleine.
There are many other characters in this odd novel, although many years before Zazie dans le métro there is a half-similar evident love of playing with language, not only obscure French words but deforming English as in the words 'un fleurte', 'poudigne' and 'visqui', or whole sentences such as 'Zey lâffe, bicose zey dou notte undèrrstande'.