In the search for clues, time flashes back to 1942 to the courtship of Rose and Joe. Nineteen-year-old Rose Finkel lives in an orthodox Jewish home and has "an understanding" with her Jewish boyfriend, Ensign Arthur Burns, only to fall in love with Italian-American, Joseph DeLucco. Joe proposes marriage after Rose discovers she is pregnant with a child he hasn't fathered. Joe claims paternity, but Rose's mother insists on a Jewish marriage ceremony. They find an obscure rabbi, Petrokoff, who agrees to marry them. Petrokoff, escaped from Nazi-occupied Poland, presents a hand-scribed marriage contract to Rose after performing the rite. She accepts it not realizing the affect of her actions.