Stanley is fired from his job with a reputable engineering firm in New York City under false pretense. His wife leaves him. He nearly freezes to death after jumping from a box car in the Wyoming winter and finds shelter in a cellar where he uses his ingenuity to survive while hiding. He discovers letters and journals and realizes his own marriage has been an empty shell.
He is arrested, jailed, and fined for unlawful entry and theft of the food he used for survival. The homeowner agrees to have him work on her farm to pay off his fine. He rebuilds his life in a new environment and fills his soul with love and satisfaction from hard work.
Because of his disappearance from New York, he is mistakenly declared dead. His ex-wife, believing she was a widow, remarries, complicating things when he is discovered to be alive.
Stanley is compelled to return to New York. Torn between two worlds on opposite sides of the country, he must decide between his life in New York and his life in Wyoming.