Blossoms in the Dust (1941) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • After losing her young son, Edna Gladney opposes the unfair laws discriminating against children whose parents are unknown, and opens an orphanage for those children.

  • Edna marries Texan Sam Gladney, operator of a wheat mill. Edna discovers by chance how the law treats children who are without parents and decides to do something about it. She opens a home for foundlings and orphans and begins to place children in good homes, despite the opposition of "conservative" citizens, who would condemn illegitimate children for being born out of wedlock. Eventually Edna leads a fight in the Texas legislature to remove the stigma of illegitimacy from birth records in that state, while continuing to be an advocate for homeless children.

  • A semi-fictionalized account of Edna Gladney is presented. This phase of her story begins in the early 1900s in Wisconsin, where Edna grew up, on the day she would meet who would become her husband, Sam Gladney, their marriage despite she already being engaged to another man at the time. Sam was just beginning his career in the flour business back in his native Texas, his business fortunes which would rise and fall over his life. Edna and Sam would have a son, but upon his death would eventually learn that Edna could bore no more children. To overcome her grief, Sam wanted to adopt, specifically the child of a young woman who worked at his flour mill and who could not both work, which she needed to do to survive financially, and keep care of the child. As a compromise, Edna decided to keep the child during the day, which led to her opening a day care center. Upon learning the plight of children given away largely due to being born out of wedlock they who are marketed largely as commodities instead of human beings, Edna would open a children's aid society to try and find loving homes for these children, who live with the stigma of being officially listed as illegitimate. Based on a story of a young woman who comes into the aid society and who seems to be headed in the same direction of Edna's own adopted sister Charlotte's tragic path, Edna begins her fight to have the word "illegitimate" stricken from the official documentation of such children in Texas, her assertion being that there are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents.

  • Edna Gladney lost her son when he was very young. By chance she discovered the injustice within the law towards children whose parents are unknown, and decided to open an orphanage for these children, despite the stigma. She fought against the unfair laws that discriminated against children born out of wedlock.

  • Edna Gladney, who lost her son at a young age, discovers the injustice within the law towards children whose parents are unknown, and decides to open an orphanage for those children and oppose the unfair laws discriminating against them.


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