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Absalom, Absalom!

Absalom, Absalom!

by William Faulkner

Absalom, Absalom! Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Family

Faulkner is obsessed with dysfunctional families, in particular dysfunctional Southern families. And boy do we get that in Absalom, Absalom!. This family tree is full of intertwining and incestuous...

The Home

As is almost always the case in literature, the home in Absalom, Absalom! is about more than just having a roof over one's head. Many of the novel's characters are seeking both a place to live and...

Time

In case you didn't notice (i.e. you didn't read the book), Absalom, Absalom! really messes with narrative and the passage of time. Instead of any sort of chronology, we get the same story told from...

Ambition

Sutpen's ambition (referred to as his "design") drives the entire story of Absalom, Absalom!. His formative experience at the door of a white man's mansion changes the direction of his life. And fr...

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

Sutpen's grand design is thwarted, but he is not the only one driven to accomplish a goal. Everyone in Absalom, Absalom! has hopes and plans, but few are realized. The women dream of being married,...

Memory and the Past

Nobody knows Sutpen's entire story. The narratives we read in Absalom, Absalom! – whether second-hand or fourth-hand – are all very partial and flawed through the influence of sorrow, bitternes...

Race

Most of Absalom, Absalom! is set in and around the American Civil War, so it's no wonder there's a lot of talk about race. Mostly, it seems to be an issue for Sutpen: it's the wrench in his otherwi...

Society and Class

When he comes down out of the mountains of West Virginia as a young man, Sutpen realizes that not only are blacks considered inferior to whites, but poor whites are considered inferior to rich ones...

Contrasting Regions: The South

Characters in Absalom, Absalom! can never transcend their origins: Sutpen will always be a country rube; Quentin, though at Harvard, will always be from the South – which fascinates his Northern...
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