Set during the Civil War, The Fathers is the story of two old Virginia families, the Buchans of Pleasant Hill and the Poseys of Georgetown. It tells of the collapse of a way of life, hastened not by the onslaught of Yankees but by a tragic flaw within the civilization of the Old South. Major Lewis Buchan, patriarch of the family, is the consummate southern aristocrat; his son-in-law, George Posey, is the modern man, steeped in the southern tradition yet restless and outside it. Young Lacy Buchan, just coming into manhood, narrates the sequence of events that tears his father and brother-in-law apart and his family asunder - betrayal, rape, madness, murder, suicide - and his tale foreshadows the paradoxical love and respect Posey will ultimately command in him. In the end, both "fathers" are heroes, and the values of both are retained, a lesson not just for Lacy but for the South.