Set in a post World War II Japan, the protagonist, Kikuji, has been orphaned by the death of his mother and father. He becomes involved with one of the former mistresses of his father, Mrs. Ota, who commits suicide seemingly for the shame she associates with the affair. After Mrs. Ota's death, Kikuji then transfers much of his love and grief over Mrs Ota's death to her daughter, Fumiko. The ending is ambiguous, as the reader is unsure whether Fumiko has committed suicide like her mother.
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