Sally Carrol Happer is a popular 19-year-old girl living in Tarleton, Georgia. She is bored with her life in Tarleton, and, much to the chagrin of her local friends, she becomes engaged to Harry Bellamy, who is from a northern town. She brushes off the concerns of her friends and describes that she needs something "more in her life" and to see "things happen on a big scale".
Having set the date for their marriage, Sally Carrol decides to travel to the North during the winter, to visit Harry's hometown and meet his family before the wedding. But the people and winter weather feed a growing disillusion with her decision to move north, leading to an epiphany at the local town's Ice Palace celebration.