Study Guide

Minor Characters in Absalom, Absalom!

By William Faulkner

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Minor Characters

Eulalia Bon Sutpen

What glorious being spawned Charles Bon? This is your lady right here. Eulalia is Sutpen's first wife, whom he meets in Haiti while he was an overseer at a sugar plantation. After Sutpen quells a slave rebellion, he is "rewarded" with the daughter of the plantation owner. Enter Eulalia. In his naiveté, Sutpen believes that she is part Spanish. When he discovers that she is actually part black, he abandons her and their son, Charles Bon. Eulalia eventually moves to New Orleans, where she and a lawyer groom Charles to exact revenge against his father – or at least that's how it goes down in Quentin and Shreve's shared imagination.

Ellen Coldfield Sutpen

Ellen is the daughter of Goodhue Coldfield and the wife of Thomas Sutpen, whom she meets at the town's Methodist Church. Ellen's character does not have a whole lot of depth: much of what we learn about her comes from her bitter younger sister, Rosa, who doesn't seem too chatty about her big sis. Although she dies pretty early on in the sequence of events, we do know that she ambitiously pursues the idea of her daughter marrying Charles Bon. That clearly didn't turn out well for anyone involved.

Wash Jones

Wash is a poor squatter who lives on Sutpen's Hundred and does odd jobs for Sutpen: basically, he attempts to keep the plantation running while Sutpen is off fighting in the Civil War. In a pretty momentous episode, Wash is barred from entering the big house by Clytie, Sutpen's half-black daughter. Yep, that's a black woman ordering around a white man. Take that, people in this book.

Wash admires "Kernel" Sutpen so much that he allows him to impregnate his granddaughter, Milly (who, yes, is way younger than Sutpen), in the hopes that he will finally be considered his equal. Spoiler alert: that doesn't work. When Sutpen rejects Milly and their daughter – precisely because she's a daughter and not a son – Wash cuts him down with a scythe. Apparently even a beaten-down, malaria-ridden man has his limits.

And in case that wasn't dramatic enough for you, Wash is killed trying to resist his own arrest, but not before killing his granddaughter and her baby with a butcher knife. There you go.

Charles Etienne de St. Valery Bon

The son of Charles Bon and his octoroon courtesan wife, Charles Etienne grows up in the shadowy world of a New Orleans brothel. Later, after his father is killed by Henry, Charles Etienne is brought by Clytie to come live at Sutpen's Hundred. Together, Clytie and Judith raise him. But like the rest of the gang, he turns out to be a big mess: a drunk, a gambler, and a fighter who spends time in jail. With a "n****" wife, he has a son, Jim Bond, who doesn't really turn out much better.

Jim Bond

Jim is the son of Charles Etienne de St. Valery Bon and his (black) wife. We don't see much of him, but he is the only member of the Sutpen clan to survive. At the novel's end, he is presented as a raving idiot who escapes the fire at Sutpen's Hundred by running into the forest. Shreve sums up Jim Bond's story by saying, "I think that in time the Jim Bonds are going to conquer the western hemisphere" (9.57). Hmmm… that doesn't bode well for us over here in the western hemisphere.

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