Study Guide

Absalom, Absalom! Time

By William Faulkner

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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 several different perspectives. Often throughout the story, time simply collapses: people find themselves haunted by past events, sometimes even living through characters who died long ago. Lucky for us, Faulkner decided to include a chronology with this masterpiece. But we suggest you read it first without the help – after all, that's how it's meant to be read.

Questions About Time

  1. What is the difference between the novel's plot and the actual chronology of events?
  2. What role does time play in the execution of Sutpen's design?
  3. Do the characters behave as though they are outside of time? Or are they trapped by time?

Chew on This

The order of events is irrelevant: this is a story about characters, not actions.

We read about Sutpen's arrival in Jefferson so many times, from so many different narrators, that it seems almost like a moment frozen in time.

Absalom, Absalom! Time Study Group

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