Set in an island paradise during World War II, two parallel love stories are threatened by the dangers of prejudice and war.
When Nellie, a nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with a mature French planter, Emile, she learns that the mother of his children was an island native. Unable to turn her back on the prejudices with which she was raised, she refuses Emile's proposal of marriage. Meanwhile, the strapping Lieutenant Joe Cable denies himself the future he wants with a Tonkinese girl because of the same fears that haunt Nellie. When Emile is recruited to accompany Joe on a dangerous mission, Nellie realises that she must seize her own chance of happiness, and is forced to confront her prejudices.