An interesting and affecting dimension added to the process of adolescing toward manhood, as in this case, the storm-driven psyche of the hero is out-roared, out-towered by the ravaged adults around him. In spite of the exhortations of his friend, Doc Larrabee, alcoholic and Deweyite, David Wayne, second son of a small town minister, cannot come to terms with his fears. An abortive attempt to achieve manhood with a mature French teacher, Albertina, preludes tragedies to follow as his father, who had held the devil at bay for years with thundering platitudes, has a Walspurgian affaire with Joanna, an isolated little widow, David's first actual amour. Propelled by his father's hysterical guilt, David is sent to find long-exiled brother Simon, savage, coarse, at the brink of decay. Returning home to his fragile, desiccated mother, David learns of his father's flight with Joanna. Damnation, however, calls Rev. Wayne home again; Simon is also brought home with a knife wound; and in the midst of horror, the father ends his life, and in doing so, returns life to the family. A likeable hero, originals of uncommon stature, a busy small Maine town setting give this tale a vital reality.