, Absalom, Absalom, along with The Sound and the Fury, helped Faulkner win the Nobel Prize in Literature. It is also his greatest condemnation of the morals, mores, and ethics of his own southern culture. Thomas Sutpen returns from the war and begins to repair his dynasty and his home, whose hundred square miles have been reduced by carpetbaggers and punitive northern action to one square mile. and any corresponding bookmarks? from your Reading List will also remove any Taking place before, during, and after the American Civil War, it is a story about three families of the American South, with a focus on the life of Thomas Sutpen. Absalom, Absalom! the best Southern novel of all time.. "Since one of the main themes of the song was compassion, it occurred to me that the Biblical story was applicable.". Absalom, Absalom Summary and Analysis of Chapter 1. The final lyric of Distant Early Warning, a single released by the Canadian rock band Rush, is the word 'Absalom' repeated three times. The use of Quentin, an already established character of sensitivity and feeling, as a central narrator adds unity to the entire Yoknapatawpha series. Thematically, the novel looks back to Quentin Compson's dilemma in The Sound and the Fury (1929) in that the problem of incest in the Charles-Judith-Henry relationship bears directly upon Quentin's own behavior in the earlier novel. The title refers to the Biblical story of Absalom, a son of David who rebelled against his father (then King of the Kingdom of Israel) and was killed by David's general Joab in violation of David's order to deal gently with his son, thus causing heartbreak to David. Drummer Neil Peart, the band's lyricist, said he "loved the sound of" the title of Faulkner's novel and was inspired to look up the Biblical story of Absalom after reading the novel. Sutpen then begins an affair with Milly, the 15-year-old granddaughter of Wash Jones, a squatter who lives on the Sutpen property. Most critics have tried to reconstruct this truth behind the shifting narratives, or to show that such a reconstruction cannot be done with certainty or even to prove that there are factual and logical inconsistencies that cannot be overcome. quizzes about important details and events in every section of the book. with its maps, chronological time table, and cast of characters, solidifies the entire Yoknapatawpha series. The affair continues until Milly becomes pregnant and gives birth to a daughter. The narration of Rosa Coldfield, and Quentin's father and grandfather, are also included and re-interpreted by Shreve and Quentin, with the total events of the story unfolding in nonchronological order and often with differing details. Henry has returned to the estate to die.  In most of Faulkner's earlier fiction, however, the question of man's relation to the past functioned as a minor theme. The only remaining Sutpen is Jim Bond, Charles Bon's black grandson, a young man with severe mental handicaps, who remains on Sutpen's Hundred. Faulkner has given us a novel which denies the moral basis upon which the old South was built, and a novel which inquires into the amount of responsibility the modern man should feel for the sins and evils of the past. Sutpen casts Milly and the child aside, telling them that they are not worthy of sleeping in the stables with his horse, who had just sired a male. The reader also later learns of Sutpen's childhood, when young Thomas learned that society could base human worth on material worth. Absalom, Absalom! Discussing Absalom, Absalom!, Faulkner stated that the curse under which the South labors is slavery, and Thomas Sutpen's personal curse, or flaw, was his belief that he was too strong to need to be a part of the human family. Yet, even in condemning the values of the southern culture, Faulkner is able to present his material with excellent control and esthetic distance. It gets a bit choppy – it's mostly a series of flashbacks – so buckle your seatbelts. In Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner examines the relationship between man's past and present actions through the complex character Thomas Sutpen and the legend of his rise and fall in the American South. courtesy of CliffsNotes. Three months later, when Rosa returns with medical help for Henry, Clytie mistakes them for law enforcement and starts a fire that consumes the plantation and kills Henry and herself. The passage is entirely italicized and incomplete. The philosophy of cynicism, detachment, and determinism advocated by Mr. Compson in The Sound and the Furyis utilized and expanded upon in Mr. Compson's narration of the Sutpen myth. The story is told entirely in flashbacks narrated mostly by Quentin Compson to his roommate at Harvard University, Shreve, who frequently contributes his own suggestions and surmises. CliffsNotes study guides are written by real teachers and professors, so no matter what you're studying, CliffsNotes can ease your homework headaches and help you score high on exams. He proposes to Rosa Coldfield, his dead wife's younger sister, and she accepts. Rigidly committed to his "design", Sutpen proves unwilling to honor his marriage to a part-black woman, setting in motion his own destruction. (For an actual chronology, check out the "Character Timelines.") The main action of Absalom, Absalom! The use of Quentin Compson as the primary perspective (if not exactly the focus) of the novel makes it something of a companion piece to Faulkner's earlier work The Sound and the Fury, which tells the story of the Compson Family, with Quentin as a main character. Like other Faulkner novels, Absalom, Absalom! SparkNotes is brought to you by Barnes & Noble. quiz that tests what you know about important details and events in the book.  The sentence can be found in Chapter 6; it begins with the words "Just exactly like father", and ends with "the eye could not see from any point". Finally, Quentin relates the story to his roommate Shreve, and in each retelling, the reader receives more details as the parties flesh out the story by adding layers. An enraged Wash Jones kills Sutpen, his own granddaughter, Sutpen's newborn daughter, and finally himself by resisting arrest. Other characters reject the past too completely and, like Jason Compson in The Sound and the Fury, become the product of a materialistic age which has neither meaning nor virtues. Henry brings Charles home for Christmas, and Charles and Judith begin a quiet romance that leads to a presumed engagement. In relationship to Faulkner's entire Yoknapatawpha saga, Absalom, Absalom! is often considered Faulkner's greatest achievement. Summary of the Novel Absalom, Absalom! The plot revolves around the character and actions of Thomas Sutpen, a poor boy from what will become West Virginia who pursues a burning ambition to be respectable, to never be shunned or disrespected by … Test your knowledge on all of Absalom, Absalom!. Are you sure you want to remove #bookConfirmation# Oh, and one other thing before we get started. Absalom, Absalom! In looking back into the past, Absalom, Absalom! is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, first published in 1936. The final effect leaves the reader more certain about the attitudes and biases of the characters than about the facts of Sutpen's story. Absalom, Absalom! One of the strange things about this chronology is that two of the narrators of Absalom, Absalom! It is this episode that sets into motion Thomas' plan to start a dynasty. When Sutpen tells Henry that Charles is his half-brother and that Judith must not be allowed to marry him, Henry refuses to believe it, repudiates his birthright, and accompanies Charles to his home in New Orleans. Faulkner stated that although none of the narrators got the facts right, since "no one individual can look at truth," there is a truth and the reader can ultimately know it. Ultimately, Faulkner does not offer a definite answer to man's proper relationship with the past, but instead, he offers a thorough and devastating examination of various negative responses to the question. Consequently, Thomas Sutpen's dedication to establishing his own great heritage (or design) is analogous to the rise and fall of the antebellum South, which established its design without considering the humanitarian implications of slavery. Faulkner's strong condemnation of the values of the South emanates from the actual story which he has Quentin tell in response to a Northerner's question: "What is the South like?" Sutpen had worked on a plantation in the French West Indies as overseer and, after subduing a slave uprising, was offered the hand of the plantation owner's daughter, Eulalia Bon. bookmarked pages associated with this title. © 2020 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Absalom, Absalom! Quentin then tells the story of the Sutpen family whose history must be seen as analogous to the history of the South. In old-fashioned prose Miss Rosa asks Quentin to call on her that afternoon. Sartoris expresses this view perhaps with more forthrightness than does Absalom, Absalom! Sutpen's failures necessarily reflect the weaknesses of an idealistic South. Study Guide has everything you need to ace quizzes, tests, and essays. The story of Thomas Sutpen's legacy ends with Quentin taking Rosa back to the seemingly abandoned Sutpen's Hundred plantation, where they find Henry Sutpen and Clytemnestra (Clytie), the daughter of Thomas Sutpen by a slave woman.
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