An uncompromising, and some will feel, uncharitable portrait of a young minister in his first year in a small midwestern parish. Howard Marcham has no real spiritual calling; his attributes- and attitudes- are acquired and at best perfunctory, and his piety is not to be confused with Christianity in any broader sense. The ministry offers him advantages he might not have had otherwise but the poverty of his childhood does not soften his sympathies for the rundown community which now faces him. His war marriage to Virginia has also not obviated his attractions to other women- during the war, and now in Millston, where Edna, an older woman stimulates ""calls"" over and above that of duty. He is to learn that she is the mistress of the town's wealthiest citizen, Newton, and his intervention- on moral grounds- is also motivated by jealousy. But his indebtedness- to the whole town- is levied against him and he is unable to correct the situation, while an offer from a wealthier community will answer some of his worldlier desires... A severe scrutiny of the personal and material motives which seem to influence not only Marcham- but also his superiors, the chastisement here is unredeemed by any note of warmth or sympathy.