The play is a macabre family drama depicting a once-prosperous Illinois farming family with a dark, terrible secret. Years ago Tilden, the eldest son of Dodge and Halie, committed incest with his mother. She gave birth to a baby boy, which Dodge drowned and buried in the field behind their farmhouse. Now the family is crippled: Dodge is drinking himself to death; Tilden is a psychic cripple; his brother, Bradley, is physically maimed; another brother has died while in military service and the mother, Halie, is sleeping with the local minister. Into this morass appears Vince, the prodigal son of Tilden, with his girlfriend, Shelly. Initially, he is not recognized and she is ignored; ultimately, their presence ignites a sort of exorcism in which the revelation of the family's crimes guarantees its survival and its continuity.