Jennie Gerhardt (Sylvia Sidney) works with her parents as a laundress for a senator, who proposes marriage. Against her father's wishes, she accepts -- only to learn shortly after that the senator has died in a train crash. Pregnant with his child, Jennie is taken in by her cousin, and soon falls for her cousin's employer, Lester Kane (Donald Cook). When Kane's father disinherits him for carrying on with a lower-class woman, Jennie selflessly calls off their romance.
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