Preacher Ethan Wilkins' (Walter Huston) call to serve a poor community on the Ohio River sparks a lifelong feud with his rebellious and headstrong son, Jason (James Stewart), who shuns his father's resignation to such a lowly life. Caught in the middle is Mary Wilkins (Beulah Bondi), the loving mother and wife, who does her best to bring peace to the household. But when quarreling turns to violent brawling, Jason leaves home to study medicine in Baltimore. His eventual success as a surgeon in Grant's army is overshadowed by his neglect for his family, particularly his sacrificing mother, and he soon learns a lesson no man could ever forget.
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