In Leningrad there live sisters – Nadia and Lida Ryazayev. They early left without parents and grew up in an orphanage. Now Nadia works at a construction site and studies in a technical school. Lida is a schoolgirl.
Having come home one day, Nadia finds Lida’s friend at the school of Cyril. They argue about happiness. Lida believes that happiness is in work, when you are working not for yourself, but for others. However, when Cyril asks her, and whether she is happy herself, Lida replies “no.” The uncle of Ryazayev – Ukhov comes. He believes that Cyril’s philosophizing about life is “artisanal.” Cyril argues with him and eventually leaves.
Suddenly, a certain Ogorodnikov appears. He was summoned to the party committee and accused
Left alone, the girls begin reading aloud “War and Peace.” Lida finishes school and is going to act on Nadine desire in the theater school. She is afraid that she will not succeed, but Nadya is sure that her sister has a huge talent. The theater was patronizing their children’s home, they were often taken to performances, and she always remembered how Lida’s eyes were then burning. Now she is helping her sister to prepare a monologue and she wants all the strength of her soul to be selected.
The action is transferred to the theatrical school, where the exams are. Lida is worried that she does not know anything and does not remember. Nadia almost pushes her into the office, where she receives the commission. When Lida comes out after a while, it is clear that she did not pass. Nadia does not believe her. She goes herself to talk with the commission, in which the director Vladimir Vladimirov is sitting, with whom Nadia was once acquainted.
Returning home, where they are already waiting for Ukhov, the girls tell that Nadya was selected, and Lida – no. My uncle persuades Nadia not to leave the technical school and work, says that this is a profession, and the theater can be practiced at leisure, that artists almost always have difficult times, there are no roles, there are no plays, there is nothing, asks Nadia to think about her sister – for one they can not get a scholarship. Nadia agrees: unfortunately, he is right.
It takes two years. Lida lies in bed, she is sick: the consequences of the ski trip organized by Cyril. Cyril, who came to see her, listens to the numerous reproaches of the sisters. Ukhov comes. He expels Cyril so that he no longer dares approach Lida. Lida tries to catch up with him, but Ukhov forces her back into bed. The doorbell rings. Ukhov leads a shy man of about thirty. This is Vladimir Lvovich, with whom Ukhov wanted to introduce Nadia, hoping that from this acquaintance marriage could grow. Vladimir asks Nadia to tell about herself, but she does not want to. She directly tells Vladimir that he should leave. The unfriendly Ukhov also leaves. Nadia apologizes to Lida, which allowed him to drive out Cyril, however, she thinks it will be better. She says that she wants only happiness to Lida, remembers their childhood and does not believe,
Two more years pass. Kirill and Lida again meet, only Cyril is now married. He hides his relationship with Lida from his wife. For Cyril this position is disgusting. He hates lying, but he regularly lies to his wife. But he can not lose all that connects him with Lida. Lida doubts whether this is love, but Cyril does not blame anything.
Ukhov asks Nadya not to let Kirill into the house, Nadya does not listen to him. She went to the theater and asked herself a small role: she does not care whatsoever – just to give something. Vladimirov tells her that she has lost her personality.
Unexpectedly comes the wife of Cyril – Shura. She is looking for her husband, since she was offered tickets for the concert. She is a teacher, she has a cheerful character, she is a very good person. Cyril and Lida come. Nadya promises the outgoing Shura that Cyril will not come here again.
Lida tells her sister that she will not live as she wants, blames her sister for driving Cyril away, says that common sense does not bring happiness. Nadia strikes Lida in the face with anger, then says she is guilty and has no right to demand anything from them with Cyril. She notices that she has all the words and thoughts, like that of Ukhov. Lida is going to leave. Nadia tries to keep her, but she still leaves.
Nadia collapsed onto the bed, shakes her head and repeats only one thing: “What should I do?”