Reader's Encyclopedia

Sutpen

A family in William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! Thomas Sutpen is the head of the family. Descended from poor whites, Sutpen acquires land in Mississippi from the Indians in 1833 and later marries Ellen Coldfield, daughter of a Jefferson merchant, in order to establish his respectability. Two children, Henry and Judith, are born of the marriage. Henry becomes a close friend of Charles Bon but kills him when he discovers that Bon, who wants to marry Judith, is their half brother and part black, the son of Thomas Sutpen and Eulalia Bon, who is part black. After Bon's death, Judith brings up his son, Charles Etienne St.- Valery Bon.

Other characters connected with the Sutpen story are Rosa Coldfield, Ellen's sister, who is at one point engaged to Thomas Sutpen; Clytie (Clytemnestra) Sutpen, the daughter of Thomas and a black slave; Jim Bond, the idiot son of Charles E. St. - Valery and the last descendant of Thomas; and Wash Jones, who murders Thomas after the latter rejects the illegitimate child borne to him by Jones's granddaughter.

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