“Clytie” Summary: Eudora Welty Short Story

Clytie Summary Eudora Welty Short Story
“Clytie” by Eudora Welty: Summary

“Clytie” is a short story by Eudora Welty from her collection A Curtain of Green and Other Stories. It’s about a young woman who takes care of her disagreeable and agoraphobic sister, her severely depressed brother and her blind and paralyzed father while dealing with her own issues as well. Here’s a summary of “Clytie”.

“Clytie” Summary

It’s raining in the town of Farr’s Gin and people and animals take cover. Miss Clytie Farr stands in the road, her straw hat getting soaked and sagging on her head. People thinks she’s losing her wits, as her sister did. Clytie walks about the town every day for no reason and no one speaks to her.

She runs back to her dark and bare house. Octavia, her older sister who never comes downstairs, informs her that everyone is hungry. Clytie lights the wood stove in the kitchen. She thinks of a child she saw in the street who looked at her trustingly. Clytie likes to watch faces and think about them. There are 150 people in Farr’s Gin but Clytie always feels like she’s never seen their faces before when she looks really carefully.

Clytie cooks three different meals. They had to give up their cook, Lethy, long ago when their father had his first stroke. She had been his childhood nurse. Old Lethy tries to visit occasionally, but Octavia won’t let her in. The father is paralyzed and blind. Only the barber comes once a week to shave him.

Clytie takes the tray up to her father. Octavia wants to feed him and takes over. Clytie has an outburst over this and then cries. Octavia reproves her and says she’ll also feed him tomorrow if she wants.

Clytie brings Octavia her supper and then brings supper to her brother, Gerald. His room is dark and smells of whiskey. He’s lying on the bed; Clytie holds him up to drink some coffee. He remembers his own house when he was married to Rosemary but she left him. She misunderstood when he used to point the gun at her. Clytie knows he’ll cry soon.

She eats her own supper in the kitchen. She thinks of faces again. Her family’s faces always come between her and the vision of a face she’s trying to find, a face from long ago. That’s what she thinks of when she’s outside in the town, but if anyone interrupts her she runs off.

Clytie used to dress up occasionally but doesn’t anymore. Once, her neighbor planted a rosebush near their fence. Clytie complimented it but then said Octavia wants it pulled up and threatened her life. A little boy on the other side would sing to their cat; he got a similar warning.

Clytie curses in the garden sometimes. Octavia observes her from the window. Moved by love, she runs through the town. She always eats quickly in the kitchen. After clearing the dishes, she checks all the doors and windows for the night.

“Clytie” Summary, Cont’d

In the morning, Clytie smiles as she hears a train on the bridge and sees some people walking by to go fishing. Gerald comes down to go to the Farr’s furniture store today. It doesn’t do much business. He sits down to breakfast. Octavia screams about her missing thimble which bothers Gerald. He leaves his breakfast and goes back to his room.

The barber, Mr. Bobo, arrives at nine and lets himself in, as is their custom. He wishes he had never started shaving Mr. Farr. He was summoned through a curt letter by Octavia. He planned to go only once, but he’s been doing it ever since. Shaving a paralyzed man is very difficult and they don’t pay. It distinguishes him, though, to be the only outsider in town allowed in the Farr house. Only the undertaker entered when Clytie’s other brother, Henry, shot himself.

Clytie comes out of her room and walks toward Mr. Bobo who’s waiting outside Mr. Farr’s door. When he asks about going in, Clytie doesn’t answer, but instead, touches the side of his face gently. They both cry out in despair and Mr. Bobo runs off in a panic. Clytie can hardly bear the thought of his face.

From inside the room, Octavia calls out for the rain water for the shave. Gerald complains about the commotion outside his door and then barricades himself in.

Clytie goes out the back door to the rain barrel, which is full and fragrant. Looking into it, she sees the face she’s been searching for. It’s an inscrutable face that frightens her with its signs of waiting and suffering. Both faces recoil. She recognizes the face, but too late. Octavia continues calling out.

The only thing Clytie can think to do is lean over the barrel and submerge her head. She holds it there. Old Lethy finds her body there, head first in the barrel with her legs hanging over the side.

I hope this summary of “Clytie” by Eudora Welty was helpful.