Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) is an old man who hasn't seen or spoken to his brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) in a long time. He lives with his mentally handicapped daughter Rose (Sissy Spacek). When his brother becomes ill and he feels that he may soon die, Alvin decides that he will visit him and try to mend their broken relationship before Lyle is gone. However, Alvin faces the obstacle of not being able to drive because his body is too impaired to obtain a driver's license. To this end he purchases a thirty year old John Deere Lawn tractor, hitches a trailer to it, and sets off on his journey. While it takes Alvin several weeks to cross the 240 miles from his home in Iowa to his brother's in Wisconsin, the result is well worth the journey.