Ackermann, an elderly Iowa farmer, attempts to care for his wife Esther, now sliding into senility, whom he has brutalized for years. Their son Don aids them by swindling them out of the farm. His wife Wendy, a teacher, seeks an ethical direction for their acts. Ackermann and Esther, faced with separation, burn themselves to death. Don grieves as he pockets the insurance money. Wendy, relieved of financial pressures, announces her pregnancy.