As soon as Zina begins menstruating, her parents start searching for a suitable husband for her. In this Yugoslavian village just before World War II, what she wants is not important. Her large dowry will attract a suitable mate. The boy her father picks is a sickly and unassertive lad named Cola. When the two prospective mates meet, Zina ridicules him and treats him with some contempt. This unpleasant relationship continues after they are wed, as Zina compares Cola's virility unfavorably to that of the boy who raped her shortly before her wedding day. In a parallel story, a divorced woman has an affair with a younger bachelor but cannot marry her beloved because an abortion has rendered her sterile. In the brutal world of the villagers, the purpose of women, as of livestock, is to reproduce early and often. Eventually Cola grows up and becomes a more commanding, mature man who occasionally strikes his wife, which everyone (including his wife) thinks is a good thing.
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