“A Day Goes By” Summary by Luigi Pirandello

“A Day Goes By” is a short story by Luigi Pirandello. It’s an allegory for a lifetime and, most likely, an allegory for Pirandello’s life. Here’s a summary of “A Day Goes By”.

“A Day Goes By” Summary

A man wakes up at night on the ground in a deserted train station. He’s confused and has no idea how he came to be there. He sees a lantern disappear inside the station. He might complain, but about what? He can’t remember leaving on a train trip, where he was going or where he came from.

The town is unfamiliar. He walks under a streetlight in front of the station. He checks his body to be sure he exists and this situation is real.

Walking farther into the city center, he sees many people like himself walking along paying no attention to anyone else. They seem sure of themselves. He feels wrong for being uncertain of what’s happening. He wants to blend in, but he’s not sure how to go about it.

He remembers working, but not any of the details. People around start waving to him. It could be because of the suit he’s wearing. He finds a faded yellow leather wallet in the pocket that looks like it was submerged in water. Inside is a small holy picture that children get in church and a picture of a beautiful young woman in a bathing suit. She seems to be greeting him. It occupies the place in a wallet where a picture of your fiancée would be kept.

A Day Goes By Summary Luigi Pirandello
“A Day Goes By” Summary

Tucked away, he also finds a large worn banknote. The woman in the picture makes him feel like the money is his. Tired and hungry, he goes to a restaurant. Much to his surprise, he’s greeted like an honored guest and brought to a table. He shows the proprietor the banknote. It’s the old kind that’s no longer in circulation, but if he brings it to the bank, it will be exchanged for modern currency. Taking him outside, he points out the bank to the man.

The bank is happy to help. They give him so much small currency that he can’t take it all with him. He takes some, and leaves the rest in his account, which he doesn’t full understand. He goes back to the restaurant but doesn’t see anything he wants.

A car and chauffeur are waiting for him outside. He gets in and is taken to a lovely house. Walking around inside, he opens a door at random. It’s a well-lit bedroom and the woman from the picture is on the bed, looking just as welcoming.

Suddenly, the woman is gone and the bed is cold. The house smells old. He feels he’s in a nightmare and wants to leave. Looking in a mirror, he feels like he’s drowning. He can’t understand why his face looks so old.

He hears a knock at the door and is told his children have arrived. He must have had them yesterday when he was young. They come in, along with their children. They lovingly reprove him for getting out of bed and insist he sit down, as they know he’s not doing well. It feels like a dream again. Is life ending already? As his children and grandchildren lean over him with attention, he notices white hairs growing on their heads. The grandchildren, who were little when they came in, are now young adults.

He wants to leap to his feet, but is unable. He gazes with compassion at his old children standing behind his grown grandchildren.

(End of “A Day Goes By” summary)

I hope this summary of Luigi Pirandello’s “A Day Goes By” was helpful.