When Beverly Weston, an alcoholic poet, disappears, his wife Violet calls her family home for support during this troubled time. Violet is suffering from mouth cancer, which she uses to supplement her own addiction to pain-killers. Her sister Mattie Fae and her husband Charles are the first to arrive; their son, Little Charles, is constantly berated by Mattie Fae, much to her husband's chagrin. Violet's youngest daughter, Ivy, arrives next; she never left her hometown and is engaged in a secret love affair with Little Charles. Barb, the oldest daughter, reluctantly comes home with her separated husband and their moody teenager. Barb is the strongest-willed member of the family, and after butting heads with Violet her whole life, she left town, breaking her father's heart and making her mother all the more willful. The last to arrive is the middle child, Karen, with her latest sleazy boyfriend in tow. When all of the family members sit down to dinner, the sparks fly, as Violet gets high and insults everyone, Barb fights back, and the truth about Ivy and Little Charles' relationship begins to bubble to the surface.