It was 1951. A faith-based college in Oho mandates chapel attendance. Free-thinker blue-collar Jewish student from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner, resents that. He hires a proxy to simulate attendance. For that he is expelled from college, which means being drafted to fight in the Korean War. There he dies.
Today, that wouldn't have happened. And even a blue-collar kid would know to hire a lawyer if it did.
The film is based on a novel by Philip Roth, who chronicled the life of Jews in America. So, of course, it has the meme of how members of a minority group struggled with making a place for themselves - professionally and socially.
Messner tries to avoid that issue. Maybe that was part of why he was headed to destruction. The world plays a major role in the playbook we have to follow. He should have known better than to enroll in a fundamentalist Christian college