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After her mother dies, Selina Peake's father takes her to Chicago, where she attends a finishing school. When her father is killed, leaving her penniless, Selina's friends learn that he was a gambler and drop her. Only Julie Hemple helps her, persuading her father, August Hemple, to get Selina a job as a schoolteacher in a small Dutch community near Chicago. There, Selina lives with a farm family, helping their adoring son Roelf with his lessons. Eventually, she marries farmer Pervus De Jong and gives birth to a son, Dirk, who becomes the center of all her hopes and dreams. As he grows, she measures him daily and nicknames him "So Big." Pervus dies, leaving Selina the struggling farm. Determined, she makes the farm pay, which enables Dirk to go away to school and eventually establish himself as an architect. Over the years, everyone comes to love the hardworking, idealistic Selina. Dirk, however, does not have his mother's strength. He falls in love with a married woman who persuades her husband to give him a job as a bond salesman in his office. He is embarrassed by his mother's farm, even though her excellent asparagus paid for his education. When he falls in love with Dallas O'Mara, a talented artist, she refuses to marry him because he is unwilling to work at something worth while. Meanwhile, Roelf has become a great sculptor. He meets Dirk, and learning that he is Selina's son, asks to see her again. At the meeting, Selina compares Roelf and Dirk, acknowledging her son's faults, while at the same time, rejoicing in Roelf's talent and good character.