Gabrielle has grown up among the rural petit-bourgeois, where her dream of passionate love is considered scandalous. At a time when women's role is to get married, Gabrielle's wild behavior creates problems; people think she is insane. Her parents marry her off to José, a seasonal worker whose job is to turn Gabrielle into a respectable woman. Gabrielle says she doesn't love him and feels as though she is being buried alive. When she is sent away to undergo a water-cure for her kidney stones, her encounter with André Sauvage, a lieutenant wounded in the Indochina War, reignites her desire for absolute love. They flee together and she devotes herself to him and he seems to respond to her desire. This time, they won't take what she calls "the important thing" from her. Gabrielle wants to live out her dream.