Reader's Encyclopedia

Absalom, Absalom! (1936)

A novel by William Faulkner. The story centers on Thomas Sutpen, the son of a West Virginia poor white, and his attempts to fulfill his " grand design " to be accepted as a Southern aristocrat and founder of a wealthy family. He establishes himself in Jefferson, Mississippi, and, at the climax of his career, he is elected colonel of Jefferson's regiment in the Civil War. Returning to his estate, Sutpen's Hundred, after the war, he finds the plantation in ruins. His daughter Judith's half brother and part - black lover, Charles Bon, has been killed by Sutpen's son, who has disappeared, and Judith has become a confirmed spinster, raising Charles's son. Sutpen 's attempt to have another son by a poor - white girl ends in his murder by her grandfather. When the Sutpen saga comes to an end in 1910, all that is left of Sutpen's dream is an idiot black, Jim Bond, his only living descendant, howling in the ashes of the burned house.

In place of the sustained interior monologue Faulkner used in The Sound and the Fury, the story is projected by means of three narrators; their personalities and concerns are revealed as each tells the story of Sutpen. Miss Rosa Coldfield, Sutpen's sister - in - law, first tells the story to Quentin Compson shortly before his departure for Harvard; her story is supplemented by that of Quentin's father; and Quentin in turn relates the whole story, with his own interpretation, to his Harvard roommate, Shreve McCannon. The title is taken from the story of Absalom in the Old Testament.

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