High school math teacher Ramiro Orellana somehow managed to run afoul of the military government in Santiago, and he has been classified as politically unreliable. Rather than go to the expense of locking him up, since he’s not considered to be a definite threat to their regime, the rulers have chosen the relatively benevolent course of sentencing him to internal exile. As a result, he is uprooted from his comfortable but friendless city existence, and finds himself in a village which has rebuilt itself after being destroyed by a tidal wave a generation ago. Despite suffering from a campaign of harassment by one of the local officials, Ramiro gradually comes to know the villagers and comes to appreciate the splendid and dangerous qualities of the natural environment. He even has an honest romantic relationship with the daughter of an exiled Spanish republican; while they care for one another, neither one wants to relinquish their autonomy in a marriage. All in all, his exile turns out to be the best thing that has ever happened to him.