10-year-old Luke lives with his parents and grandparents in Arkansas during the Korean War. To pick the cotton in their fields, they must hire "hill people" and Mexicans. Hank is a "hill person" who doesn't take kindly to people looking down on him. Luke witnesses a fight that Hank gets into that causes the death of another person. With better times ahead to look forward to, the town gets excited about a new invention - television.