Jonah's wife Senhorinha witnesses the decline of oligarchic family structure in a rural Brazilian household through the years during the early 20th century: Guilherme, one of the couple's children, decides to enter a seminar to escape the passion he feels for his sister Glória. Jonah, as a way of sublimating his love for Gloria, takes her to a convent school and. He takes the virginity of the girls from the region with the complicity of Rute, his sister in-law who adores him in silence. Edmundo, their eldest son, marries Heloísa but fails on the wedding night for loving his mother intensely. Anguished, Heloísa pierces herself with the candle of a candlestick. Nonô, the youngest son, goes wildly through the farm pastures. Upon returning from the seminary, Guilherme throws Rute out of the house and accuses her of cursing the family. Rute prostitutes herself. Edmundo and his mother plan to kill Jonas, who angrily violates a pregnant woman who was his ex-lover. Glória is expelled from the nuns' school for maintaining a homosexual relationship with a colleague and Guilherme takes her to a chapel, and reveals his love for her. But she says she loves her father. Outraged, Guilherme kills her and castrates himself. Upon discovering that Senhorinha had a lover, Edmundo attacks her and commits suicide. During the children's wake, Senhorinha kills Jonas and goes to meet Nonô.
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