“Livvie” Summary: Eudora Welty Short Story

Livvie Summary Eudora Welty Short Story
“Livvie” Summary

“Livvie” is a short story by Eudora Welty from her collection The Wide Net and Other Stories. It’s set in the deep woods of the American South and follows the life of a young woman who’s married to a much older man. With parallels to the myth of Persephone’s abduction, it explores loneliness, duty and renewal, among other things. Here’s a summary of “Livvie”.

“Livvie” Summary

Solomon, a black man who owns his own land and who’s significantly older, married Livvie when she was sixteen and moved her twenty-one miles away to an isolated place in the deep country. She agreed to the marriage. He keeps her inside the house. After nine years, Solomon gives out from old age and spends all day in bed.

It’s a nice house, well decorated with ample furniture. The one item Livvie brings is a picture of the white baby of the family she worked for back in Natchez. The outside is also nice, with two easy chairs on the porch. There’s a well tended front yard with a line of crape-myrtle trees for keeping spirits away.

There’s no one else around, not even a white person. The cabins for the tenants are the nearest dwellings, but Livvie can’t look at the field hands nor they her. Livvie does the housework quietly and brings Solomon his meals on a tray. He hardly touches any of it. He falls asleep before she can coax him to taste anything. She’s afraid he won’t last.

On the first day of spring, Livvie brings Solomon his breakfast of eggs and grits. He sleeps soundly so she waits a while, fanning him to keep the flies away. It seems like he’s a baby sometimes. He wakes and speaks her name but won’t have any eggs.

Livvie eats her breakfast and Solomon’s in the kitchen. She feels the stir of spring, with the moon in its last quarter and the workers in the field. There’s the activity of work and playing around. The old women bring out lunch and the kids come out too. She imagines going out into the field among everyone and working with them.

Livvie does some housework and makes chicken broth. She brings some up to Solomon. She wonders if he dreams of her or places he’s been. She’s fears that she could be taken with him into death if he’s dreaming of her while he dies. He wakes up but won’t taste the broth.

While working in the front room, Livvie hears someone outside. A white lady knocks until Livvie opens the door. Miss Baby Marie sells cosmetics and wants to show them to Livvie. She puts numerous bottles and jars all over the room.

She has Livvie try some lipstick. The scent reminds her of her old home. Livvie explains she doesn’t have money; her husband keeps it and she won’t ask for it. Miss Baby Marie packs up all her bottles and jars. Before leaving, she wants to see Livvie’s husband. Livvie lets her look into Solomon’s room. She remarks on how small and old he is, and the beautiful quilt that covers him.

Miss Baby Marie tries to sell the lipstick one more time but Livvie reaffirms her lack of money. The lady leaves. Livvie’s heart pounds as she watches her leave. She sits by Solomon and realizes he’s near death.

Livvie leaves the house and walks down the Natchez Trace a short distance. She sees a well dressed man who checks his appearance on seeing her. He approaches her, introduces himself as “Cash”, and shows her a guinea pig he has in his pocket. They walk and Livvie looks at him with wonder, although he’s not doing anything remarkable.

They emerge from the trees at the house. Cash whistles and Livvie realizes he’s one of Solomon’s field hands dressed up. Cash laughs and gesticulates happily. Livvie throws herself into his arms and kisses him, feeling in that instant that Solomon is about to die. She cries out and runs for the house.

Cash runs ahead of her into the house. Livvie soon follows, rushing into Solomon’s room and calling out to him. He doesn’t move but he sighs.

Cash enters the room and his presence gives her strength, although she doesn’t need it. Solomon sleeps, his face telling the story of his life. Solomon is suddenly wide awake. Cash raises his arm but holds it there, instead of bringing it down on Solomon. Livvie stays still and cries.

Solomon knows young people can’t wait. His measures to keep her hidden didn’t work. The man is someone he’s known since he was born. He asks God’s forgiveness for taking Livvie away from her people and other young people.

Solomon holds out his silver watch to Livvie. She takes it and he dies.

Livvie and Cash leave the room. In the front room, he takes her by the waist and twirls her in a circle. She drops the watch. At the door, she rests in his arms. Outside, spring is in bloom.

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