Mr. Stevens agrees to take a trip to visit Ms. Kenton as Mr. Farraday is away for a couple of weeks in America. He embarks on this journey and narrates with a series of flashbacks.
Mr. Stevens admires Salisbury(particularly its cathedral) and settles into a guest house. He narrates about how great of a butler his father is.
Mr. Stevens flashes back to when Miss Kenton and Mr. Stevens Sr. both arrived at Darlington hall at the same time. Mr. Stevens Sr. falls on a step while carrying a tray and is relieved of many duties. Lord Darlington holds a conference at Darlington Hall to discuss the effects of World War 1. While Mr. Stevens is serving at the conference, Mr. Stevens Sr. dies.
Mr. Stevens is embarrassed that Lord Darlington was a Nazi sympathizer. So, he lies to a man that he began his employment at Darlington Hall under its new owner: Mr. Farraday. Mr. Stevens remembers how he also lied to Mr. Farraday that he did not serve under Lord Darlington.
Mr. Stevens discusses his loyalty to Lord Darlington and ultimately defends him, taking pity that many men fell into the same trap.
Mr. Stevens flashes back to when Lord Darlington begin being anti-Jewish. He makes Mr. Stevens fire two Jewish members of his staff. Mr. Stevens tells Miss Kenton and she becomes furious, ready to quit. Mr. Stevens and Miss Kenton struggle to relate here on out.
Mr. Stevens stays at Rose and Garden Hotel. He remembers one time when he stood outside Miss Kenton's door and knew she was crying inside. He said nothing and tension remained between them. She tells him she is getting married and Mr. Stevens shows no emotion. He congratulates her and she leaves Darlington Hall for good.
Mr. Stevens is on a pier and remembers his revent meeting with Miss Kenton. She is back with her husband and daughter. They talked about old times and Miss Kenton explained how she grew to love Mr. Benn. Mr. Stevens tells her how he worries about lacking dignity, but he ultimately decides to focus on the present after some advice from a man on the pier and lives on.