Absalom, Absalom

stream of consciousness in absalom absalom?

stream of consciousness

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours

Stream of Consciousness in Faulkner’s Absolam, Absolam!

While I was reading Absolam, Absolam! I was reminded once again of Faulkner’s particular writing style of stream of consciousness. The book itself is laid out very confusing having multiple narrators depicting incidents of the past, a recurrent theme of Faulkner’s identifying man’s connection to his past. The first narrator of Absolam, Absolam is Rosa, the sister in law of Thomas Sutpen. She describes Sutpen with so much hatred that he almost takes form of a monster, which is incapable of feelings. Interestingly, Rosa is telling her story to Quentin Compson, the second narrator from The Sound and the Fury, who later as we know commits suicide. At the end of the first chapter, I was left with many pieces of what seem to be the tragic story of Thomas Sutpen, a man who mysteriously shows up in Jefferson, Mississippi buys one hundred acres of land and turns it into a plantation. We also know that he becomes married to Ellen who is twenty-four years older than her younger sister Rosa. The final image of Sutpen given by Rosa is that some black man kills him on his plantation. Rosa also asks Quentin to come with her to the old Sutpen mansion, because she thinks someone is hiding out there.

Continuing with his stream of consciousness technique, Faulkner has Mr. Compson tell the next few chapters through his memories of Thomas Sutpen. Sutpen was in the Cival War with General Compson, and as the stories have been passed down to Mr. Compson, he is passing the story now to Quentin. In Mr. Copsons version, I learned of Sutpens marriage disaster, his immediate family,his illegitimate child with a slave, and a previous marriage to a woman who was 1/8 black, who bears Sutpen a son, which is his dream, but also his downfall. He also explains, how Charles Bon, Sutpen’s abandoned 1/8 negro child comes home with Henry Sutpen from college. Later he is killed by Henry, which is not fully explained yet. I think, that there may be a connection between Sutpen’s hatred of non-whites, and the effects they have on his son, Henry.

However Mr. Compson’s view of Sutpen is very different from Rosa’s. He remembers General Compson’s description of Sutpen’s determination, “Given the occasion and the need, this man can and will do anything." Therefore, Sutpen is determined, hard working, and confidant, all characteristics of the South during the Civil War. Mr. Compsons positive images of Sutpen, almost negate the previous description of Sutpen through Rosa. It is my understanding that throughout the book, many pieces of the puzzle will be answered through the memories and recollection of the remaining narrators.


"Stream of Consciousness in Faulkner’s Absolam, Absolam!." 123HelpMe.com. 19 Mar 2012 .