Juan Patricio is orphaned as a boy, but he grows up drawing strength from La Sierra Madre, the Mother Mountain that towers over his village. She is there for him always, whether he is toiling as a migrant worker or fighting in the Korean war. She inspires the artist in him, the carver of cedarwood. Part Hispanic, part native American, Juan is looked down upon by the gringos who treat him as a foreigner in the land of his birth. Yet he lives his life with a quiet dignity and purpose.