The story is set in Kando (the northeast part of Manchuria) in the 1930s, when open warfare took place between the Japanese occupation forces, Communist fighters, and Chinese bandits. The story is about an unnamed mother of a family. Her husband gets killed in the crossfire and her son runs away with the Communists. The mother struggles to find her son and later joins a smuggler group, carrying heavy loads of salt across the snowy forests. Throughout her journey, the mother starts to understand why her son is a Communist party activist.