Set in the 1980s, The Golden Gate follows a group of yuppies in San Francisco. The inciting action occurs when protagonist John Brown has his friend Janet Hayakawa place an amorous advertisement of himself in the newspaper; the latter answered, at length, by trial-lawyer Elisabeth (‘Liz’) Dorati. A short heyday follows, in which Seth introduces and develops a variety of characters united in part by their interest in self-actualization (often in the form of agriculture) and in part by closeness to Liz or John. Thereafter is depicted the progress of their marriage de facto until its dissolution, which results in the legal marriage of Liz to John’s friend ‘Phillip (‘Phil’) Weiss’, and the birth of their son. Following his rejection of Liz, John finds a second paramour in Janet, until the latter and two other friends die in an automobile collision; and is himself invited to stand godfather to Liz’s son.