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Widowed Gene Garrison, a 40-year-old New York college professor, reluctantly tells his aging parents, Tom and Margaret, that he plans to marry Peggy, a divorced physician and mother, and move to California. Although Gene's mother is understanding, his father warns Gene that his departure will kill her. Before the marriage takes place, however, Margaret dies of a heart attack. At the funeral the professor's sister Alice, disowned by Tom for marrying a Jew, urges Gene to live his life without reference to his father's wishes. Gene introduces the old man to his fiancée, urging him to come with them to California. When Tom bitterly rejects his proposal, Gene leaves his father to die alone.