The underlying premise of this subtle character study of a rural Taiwanese family seems to hinge on the lead character's grim notion that fate may be a blind alley and that life may have no higher purpose. Ku-cheng is fully grown and married with a daughter, but still lives on his poor family's farm where they make a meager but consistent living. Ku-cheng is not unhappy until his beloved wife Ah-hsui dies bearing his son Ah-sheng leaving Ku-cheng bitter and uncaring about the future. In this fatalistic mood, he begins working as a laborer and leaves his children for his parents to raise. He meets and begins a fruitless two year affair with the widow Ah-yun, who knows that Ku-cheng will never marry her. Many years pass. Tragedy strikes when Ku-cheng's mother becomes bedridden after a stroke. Ku-cheng's daughter dutifully cares for her, becoming increasingly further behind in school. Her little brother, cares little for the situation. He is lazy, and irresponsible. The grandmother becomes the center on which the rest of the drama turns.