Seven young siblings are orphaned when their bedridden mother dies, having converted to fundamentalist religion and refused medical help. Not wanting to be taken to an orphanage, they bury her in the backyard and go on with their daily routines as if she were still alive. The eldest child, a young teenage girl, takes charge. They make excuses for their mother's absence to their neighbors and teachers, one of the boys forges the mother's signature on cheques that arrive for her each month, and they periodically hold seances to communicate with her.
One of the boys writes to their mother's no-good estranged husband, who is their legal father, hoping he will help them, but when he moves in, he spends their money, drinks regularly, entertains loose women, and begins the process of selling the house. When they confront him, he explains that their mother was even more irresponsible than he is before she turned to religion, and that they are all bastards. One of the girls is so shocked by this revelation that she kills him with a fire iron. Finally accepting the seriousness of their situation, the children turn themselves in to the authorities.