Antonina (Ludmila Motornaya) works as a tractor operator on a farm in the Ukraine, where she lives with her family in the years following World War II. Her bosses award her the "red banner" because she's their most diligent worker. But the banner causes her life to deteriorate. She overworks herself in an attempt to justify the banner's presence in her house. Her husband (Vyacheslav Batrakov), who lost his legs in the war, turns to drink. And vermin continually gnaw at the banner itself.