The Jordans are an upper-class family living in Veazie, Maine. The Jordan family has gathered around in the home of dying matriarch Grandmother Jordan. Three of the Jordan children—son Henry, daughters Sadie and Emma—speculate greedily about who will get what from the family estate. The youngest Jordan child, Ben, is not present, since he is a fugitive from the police after being suspected of arson. The only person who seems to care about Grandmother dying is Jane, a distant cousin who was brought to the mansion eight years ago at age 14 to be an assistant to Grandmother. Finally Grandmother dies, but the will contains a big surprise.
- As You Know: Dialogue establishes that Jane is a distant relation, "and just a step-cousin, once removed".
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: None of the Jordans like each other. Henry's business is failing, Ben is a wastrel, the sisters are deadbeats, and none of them give a crap about their mother passing away.
- Black Sheep: Ben is described as this. He's been a drunkard and a hellraiser, and he's on the lam after getting drunk, getting in a fight, and torching the barn of the men he fought with.
- The Casanova: Ben.Sadie: Always walks up to everything he sees in petticoats.
- Double-Meaning Title: See Title Drop below.
- Idle Rich: Henry has a store but the other Jordans were content to live off of Grandmother and mooch off of Jane after Grandmother's death. They even briefly contemplate borrowing money from Jane so they can pay a lawyer to break the will.
- Kissing Cousins: Ben has a brief romantic entanglement with Nellie, his brother's stepdaughter.
- Love Triangle: Jane is in love with Ben, but he has no clue and lusts after sexy Nellie.
- Oblivious to Love: Ben doesn't get it that Jane loves him, not after she posts his bail, not even after the Judge broadly hints at it, not until a letter from Grandmother finally clues him in.
- Passed-Over Inheritance: Grandma felt that all the Jordans were greedy and selfish and would squander the family fortune, so she left it all to Jane.
- Posthumous Character: Grandmother Jordan, who never has any dialogue and dies shortly after the play starts, but who is talked about constantly. Jane reads letters that Grandmother wrote to her.
- Title Drop: "Icebound, that's what we are all of us, inside and out," says Ben. He is referring both to the New England winters and the emotional coldness of the Jordan family.
- Youngest Child Wins: Ben was the only child that Grandmother Jordan loved. Eventually Jane signs the farm over to him, and they get married.