Clytemnestra

Character Key: 
Display Name: 
Clytemnestra
Sort Name: 
Clytemnestra
Parent: 
AKA: 
Clytie
Race: 
MixedBlackWhite
Gender: 
Female
Class: 
Enslaved Black
Rank: 
Secondary
Vitality: 
Dies
Family: 
Sutpen
Family (new): 
Date of Birth: 
Thursday, January 1, 1835 to Thursday, December 31, 1835
Cause of Death: 
Suicide
Biography: 

Clytemnestra (Clytie) is the daughter of Thomas Sutpen and one of the two enslaved women he brings with him to Yoknapatawpha. She is first mentioned by Rosa, as the "negro girl" with a "Sutpen face" beside Judith Sutpen, Clytie's half-sister (22); later Rosa refers to her "Sutpen coffee-colored face" (109). Sutpen "named [Clytemnestra] himself," after a legendary Greek queen, though Mr. Compson "likes to believe" that Sutpen "intended to name her Cassandra," after another figure from Greek tragedy (48). Clytemnestra grows up enslaved, but alongside Sutpen's white children; she and Judith sleep "in the same room, but with Judith in the bed and she on a pallet on the floor" (112). After slavery is abolished Clytemnestra remains in the house, where, after she travels alone to New Orleans to find Charles Bon's orphaned son, she and Judith try to raise him, and later, alone, she raises Bon's grandson. She dies presiding over the final act of the fall of the house of Sutpen, an enigmatic presence to the end. She could say, like Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury, that she has seen the first and the last, but Dilsey is a much more transparent character: Clytie's thoughts and motivations remain hidden.

Individual or Group: 
Individual
Character changes class in this text: 
Date of Death: 
Sunday, December 26, 1909 to Friday, December 31, 1909

digyok:node/character/15451