In the first sound adaptation of Edna Ferber's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel a woman raises her son on a farm; he gives up architecture to sell bonds.
Simeon Peake gives up an evening of gambling to dine with his daughter Selina, telling her life is an adventure. Years later Selina (Barbara Stanwyck) learns that her father was killed in a gambling hall. She gets a job teaching school and living on the farm of Klaus Poole (Alan Hale). At dinner she learns that regular fertilizer contains "dried blood." Young Roelf (Dick Winslow) Poole reads a dictionary, and Selina gives him books. At a charity auction Pervus Dejong (Earle Foxe) bids $10 for Selina's picnic basket. She offers to teach him figuring. Roelf draws the "teacher's pet" and is jealous of Pervus, who gives Selina flowers.
As the wife of Pervus, Selina has to get up at 4 a.m. She cooks, sews, paints, and gives birth to a son. Roelf's mother dies, and he says he hates farmers. Selina calls her son Dirk So Big. Roelf says good-bye to Selina. She cares for ailing Pervus, tells him to plant asparagus, and suggests new ways. With Dirk (Dickie Moore) she goes to the hay-market with vegetables after her husband died. She and Dirk sleep in the wagon.
Years later Selina shows Dirk (Hardie Albright) mementos. He is an architect. Selina tells Dirk that Roelf is a famous sculptor. At a fancy restaurant Dirk tells Paula that he is not related to the asparagus Dejong. Paula urges Dirk to go into the bond business and gets her husband to give him a position. Dirk asks Dallas O'Mara (Bette Davis) to make a drawing for $1500. Dirk visits his mother, who doesn't want him to be a gilded youth. Selina suggests Dirk marry and asks about Paula. She tells Dirk not to desert Beauty. Dirk watches Dallas draw, says she is attractive, and invites her to dinner. Dallas admires his mother for growing asparagus and would like to meet her. Dallas is going to study art in Paris. Dirk asks her why she doesn't want him. She says he is too smooth and has not worked hard. Roelf Poole (George Brent) arrives from Europe, and Dallas introduces him to Dirk. Roelf and Dallas met in Paris. The three of them go to see Selina on the farm. Selina and Roelf admire each other. Dallas tells Dirk that she would like to do a portrait of Selina, and Roelf holds Selina's hands.
Artistic pursuits and hard work are promoted in this short film covering a long period of time in the lives of a determined woman, her drifting son, and her young artistic friend.