As Jim Stevens embarks on a journey to meet a former colleague whom appears to be more, he reminisces about his career as a butler in the manor of a prestigious English gentleman, Lord Darlington. His desire to succeed in his profession has limited his personal life, a fact that he is just beginning to regret. Stevens' memories of his conflicted relationship with Miss Kenton, whom he is going to visit, reveal that he has sacrificed much to be the epitome of the perfect butler, compromising not only his personal feelings but his values as well. Yet Steven never reveals how empty he now feels, but remains the stoic English butler throughout. Through Stevens' flashbacks, the reader is transported to an elegant time that no longer exists, revealing that what Stevens has devoted his life to is no longer relevant.