Ben Quick, a sullen but self-confident drifter, arrives in a small Mississippi town where his father had a bad reputation as a firebug. Will Varner, the town's patriarch, still holds a grudge against Quick's dad, and when the young man decides to stay in town and sharecrop on Varner's land, Will goes out of his way to make his life difficult. However, Will develops a grudging respect for Quick's guts and determination, and he wishes that his weak-willed son Jody could be more like him; Jody's wife Eula happens to agree. In time, Will gets the idea that Quick might be a good match for his daughter Clara and a better choice to take over his business dealings than Jody. However, neither Clara nor Quick care to be told what to do, and besides, Clara already has a beau, Alan Stewart who is led by the nose by his mother. However, sparks begin to fly between Clara and Quick, and when Jody fears he may lose his place as heir of Will's estate, he takes drastic action.