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Absalom, Absalom!

William Faulkner

Characters

Summary

Chapter 1

Thomas Sutpen  -  Owner and founder of the plantation Sutpen's Hundred, in Yoknapatawpha County, near Jefferson, Mississippi. Married to Ellen Coldfield; father of Henry, Judith, and Clytemnestra Sutpen, also of Charles Bon. An indomitable, willful, powerful man, who achieves his ends through shrewdness and daring, but who lacks compassion. Murdered by Wash Jones in 1869.
Charles Bon  -  Son of Thomas Sutpen and Eulalia Bon, the part- black daughter of the owner of the Haitian plantation on which the young Thomas Sutpen was overseer. After Sutpen renounced his wife and son upon learning of Eulalia's negro blood, Bon and his mother moved to New Orleans, where Bon lived until deciding to attend the University of Mississippi in 1859. A laconic, sophisticated, and ironical young man.
Ellen Coldfield Sutpen  -  Thomas Sutpen's second wife, mother of Henry and Judith Sutpen. A flighty and excitable woman.
Rosa Coldfield  -  Ellen Coldfield’s much-younger sister, younger aunt of Henry and Judith Sutpen. Briefly engaged to Thomas Sutpen following Ellen's death, but left him after he insulted her. Spent the rest of her life as a bitter spinster, obsessed with her anger and hatred of Thomas Sutpen.
Mr. Coldfield -  A middle-class Methodist merchant and father of Ellen and Rosa.
Henry Sutpen  -  Thomas Sutpen's son with Ellen. Grew up on Sutpen's Hundred, then attended the University of Mississippi beginning in 1859. There he befriended Charles Bon, whom he later murdered. A well- meaning and romantic young man, with his father's strength of purpose but lacking his father's shrewdness.
Judith Sutpen  -  Thomas Sutpen's daughter with Ellen. Grew up on Sutpen's Hundred, where she was engaged to Charles Bon in 1860. Strong, indomitable, and, like her father, swift to action.
Clytemnestra Sutpen ("Clytie")  -  Daughter of Thomas Sutpen and a slave woman. Grew up on Sutpen's Hundred as subservient to Judith and Henry; remained at the plantation until burning the manor house down in 1910, an event which caused her death.
Wash Jones  -  A low-class squatter living in the abandoned fishing camp at Sutpen's Hundred. Performed odd jobs for and drinks whiskey with Thomas Sutpen. Milly's grandfather; murdered Sutpen with a rusted scythe in 1869.
Milly Jones -  Wash Jones' young granddaughter, who at fifteen gave birth to Thomas Sutpen's child. Murdered, along with Sutpen and the baby, by her grandfather shortly after the birth.
Charles Etienne de St. Valery Bon -  Son of Charles Bon and his octoroon mistress- wife. Taken by Clytie to Sutpen's Hundred in 1871. Married a negro woman in 1879. A tormented, violent man.
Jim Bond -  Son of Charles Etienne de St. Valery Bon and his negro wife. Raised by Clytie on Sutpen's Hundred, from which he disappears following the fire in 1910. A slack-jawed, oafish man.
Quentin Compson  -  A young man from Jefferson, Mississippi, who is preparing to attend (and later does attend) Harvard in the first part of the 20th century.
General Compson  -  Quentin's grandfather and Thomas Sutpen's first friend in Yoknapatawpha County. A Brigadier General for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and a distinguished citizen of Jefferson, Mississippi.
Mr. Compson  -  Quentin's father and General Compson's son, a man who believes in the power of fate to destroy human lives. Relays to Quentin many of the stories he heard from his father about Thomas Sutpen.
Shreve -  Quentin's roommate at Harvard, a young man from Edmonton in Alberta, Canada.

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I like it

by fixasso, October 01, 2013

Great sparknotes. I like it!

No mistake in Absalom, Absalom

by achilles28, November 29, 2013

Many believe Faulkner made a mistake in describing Sutpen's house as built of brick at the beginning of the story, but in describing the fire that destroyed it we are made to see a wooden house burning to the ground.

This was no mistake. Consider the fall of Sutpen. He built a brick house, big as a courthouse, when he came as a symbol of his power over the people around him. A common wooden house would never suit Sutpen as we first know him. By the end of the story Sutpen is destroyed with no hope of redemption. A brick house, with w... Read more

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22 out of 22 people found this helpful

Thank you, thank you, thank you

by Susie937, June 20, 2014

I am reading this book for the first time for a classics book club. I've had a hard time following the story because the narrators seemed to change, description overtook plot and I lost who was who as the story developed. It was great to have a short synopsis and also a clarification about how Faulkner writes. The conclusion of the first chapter notes reminded me of when I see my optometrist and he tries out the different lenses to find a better view for me before he writes a prescription.

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