The setting is a squalid farm home occupied by a family filled with suppressed violence and an unease born of deep-seated unhappiness. The characters are a ranting alcoholic grandfather; a sanctimonious grandmother who goes on drinking bouts with the local minister; and their sons, Tilden, an All-American footballer now a hulking semi-idiot; and Bradley, who has lost one leg to a chain saw. Into their midst comes Vince, a grandson none of them recognizes or remembers, and his girlfriend, Shelly, who cannot comprehend the madness to which she is suddenly introduced. The family harbors a dark secret—years earlier the grandfather, Dodge, had buried an unwanted newborn baby in an undisclosed spot, creating a cloud of guilt which is dispelled only when Tilden unearths the child's mummified remains and carries it upstairs to his mother. His act purges the family, at last, of its infamy and suggests the perhaps slim possibility of a new beginning under Vince, whose estrangement from the others has spared him the taint of their sin.