Absalom, Absalom! Ambition Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Sutpen had not expressed himself. But he wanted it. In fact, Miss Rosa was righter than she knew: he did want it, not the anonymous wife and the anonymous children, but the two names, the stainless wife and the unimpeachable father-in-law, on the license, the patent. (2.18)
Part of Sutpen's dream is to marry into the right family. Because his background is so sketchy, he knows he has to marry someone who will improve his reputation in town and raise his status in the community. Enter Ellen Coldfield.
He was the biggest single landowner and cotton-planter in the county now, which state he had attained by the same tactics with which he had built his house – the same singleminded unflagging effort and utter disregard of how his actions which the town could see might look and how the indicated ones which the town could not see must appear to it. (3.11)
Remember that respect he wanted? Well, it looks like that might be more like envy and fear. Either way, he'll have to get it through the possession of money and property, because these people sure don't like him otherwise.
[H]e was still playing the scene to the audience, behind him fate, destiny, retribution, irony – the stage manager, call him what you will – was already striking the set […]. (3.11)
Even as Sutpen put everything he had into building his empire, forces were working against him. He played the role of the arrogant patriarch, but he would soon be brought down by his ignorance. P.S. Check out this awesome theater metaphor. It makes everything that much more dramatic, right?