Stephen Dallas, well-educated and refined, falls in love with and marries Stella Martin, a pretty young mill-hand. He soon realizes that they have nothing in common. Gradually they see less and less of each other, Stella being absorbed in bringing up their daughter Laurel. Laurel has much of her father in her and recoils instinctively from her mother's vulgarity, though remaining completely loyal to her. As Laurel grows up things become increasingly difficult. Stella consents to a divorce from Stephen for Laurel's sake. Laurel hears what has happened and refuses to leave her mother. Stella makes the supreme sacrifice. She pretends she is sick of being a mother and wants a good time with a drunken old admirer. Completely deceived and disillusioned Laurel leaves her and finds happiness with her father and stepmother.