City businessman Luo Yusheng returns to his home village in North China for the funeral of his father, the village teacher. He finds his elderly mother insisting that all traditional burial customs be observed. Observing his mother's intransigence, Yusheng thinks back over the stories he heard as a boy about his parents' courtship. His father, Luo Changyu, came to the village as the new teacher and soon fell in love with Zhao Di, considered the prettiest of local girls. But their developing romance was curtailed when Changyu was ordered back to the city and the would-be lovers were kept apart for more than two years. When finally reunited, they married and never separated again. Yusheng realizes that his mother's wishes for the funeral must be respected. On the day of the funeral more than 100 of Changyu's former pupils turn up to carry the coffin. Before returning to the city, Yusheng symbolically honors his father's dearest wish: he spends one day teaching in the village school.