In 1937, Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney), Pete Hogwallop (John Turturro), and Delmar O'Donnell (Tim Blake Nelson) escape from a chain gang at Parchman Farm and set out to retrieve the $1.2 million in treasure that Everett claims to have stolen from an armored car and buried before his incarceration. They have only four days to find it before the valley in which it is hidden will be flooded to create Arkabutla Lake as part of a new hydroelectric project. Early on in their escape, while still chained together, they try to jump onto a moving train with some hobos, but fall off due to Pete's inability to get on. They then encounter a blind man (Lee Weaver) traveling on a manual railroad car. They hitch a ride, and he foretells their futures.