The novel depicts a small town in the 20s and 30s and the conflicts within Símun about beliefs, worker’s unions, love and many other things.
Símun was engaged to Astrið but she ended it because she has doubts about whether Símun was a dedicated Christian. Then he meets Sára and they get married. Sára is full of life, she is happy and spirited and this does not fit well with the heavy handed townspeople.
Gunnar, an atheist, comes back from abroad and sets up a mercantile in the town. He represents something new which Símun sees as destructive. In addition to that Gunnar seems to have an eye for Sára. Sára herself seems to think that Gunnar brings something new and exciting to the town.
Several different people shape the town but the main story is about Símun’s own struggle with himself, as he tries to find a footing in life and to come to an agreement with his inner conflicts.