by William Faulkner
Absalom, Absalom! Chapter 9 Summary
- Now Quentin thinks back to the night he went out to Sutpen's Hundred with Miss Rosa. Clearly, the memory is freaking him out: he is shivering uncontrollably in his bed.
- He thinks back (we'll tell this in the present, though – you know, for dramatic effect): they approach the plantation gate at midnight. Miss Rosa is afraid Clytie will try to stop her from getting into the house the way she did the day Henry was shot. Actually, she wishes Quentin had brought a pistol. But instead, she hands him a hatchet, just in case. (If we had a nickel for everyone time someone handed us hatchet just in case…)
- Just as they are stepping into the house, Quentin and Miss Rosa hear the sound of a match being struck. It's Clytie, looking like a "[…] tiny gnomelike creature in a headrag and voluminous skirts […]" (8.32).
- Clytie tells Quentin to stop Miss Rosa, but our lady enters the house anyway. Clytie tries to stop her, but Miss Rosa knocks her to the ground with a "full-armed blow" (8.32). Whoa, Miss R! Quentin helps her up and she asks who he is.
- At that moment, a wide-eyed Jim Bond appears (remember him?), a "hulking man in clean faded overalls and shirt, his arms dangling" (8.34). He walks Miss Rosa back to the buggy, and Quentin goes upstairs to see what Miss Rosa saw.
- Though he has doubts as he approaches the door to the room, Quentin enters anyway. Hey, why not?
- And there, in the room, he sees – wait for it – Henry Sutpen!
- Henry has been living at Sutpen's Hundred for four years: he had come home, as he tells Quentin, "To die" (8.39).
- Three months later, Miss Rosa decides to try to save Henry and sends an ambulance out to the house.
- In the present, Quentin and Shreve imagine Clytie fearfully waiting for the police to come arrest Henry for shooting Charles Bon. Thinking that's what the ambulance is, Clytie sets the house on fire. (Yikes. Not the route we would have taken.)
- She had prepared for that moment by stuffing a closet full of rags and kerosene. Hey, at least she was prepared.
- In the inferno, someone is bellowing – some "creature" (8.47) that turns out to be Jim Bond. He flees the scene, wailing all the way. Henry and Clytie both die in the fire, leaving Jim Bond as the only living heir to the Sutpen name.
- The story ends in the present with our friend Shreve taking control of the story once again, still with his own biased speculation about "The South." Shreve thinks the Jim Bonds of the world will take over.
- He asks Quentin one final question: "Why do you hate the South?" He doesn't, claims Quentin: he doesn't hate the South.
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