The Development of Class Consciousness in Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!

Turki S. Althubaiti


This article reads William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! (1936) as a constant negotiation between Thomas Stupen's "design" and the class of the planters, with which he tries to compete. Sutpen's childhood in the Appalachian Mountains, where class and racial differences are largely absent, renders his descent with his family into the plains in Tidewater as a kind of a Fall associated with knowledge. Sutpen observes the importance of land in the plains and the racial differences on the basis of colour and the differences between white people and white people. Even though Sutpen's humiliation comes from a black butler who does not allow him to enter the mansion of the planter Bettibone from the front door, it is with the planter that Sutpen plans to combat. Sutpen's "design" which will shape his life starts as a reading of the planters' class and as a recipe for becoming one of them, or even defeating them. Sutpen expresses this design as follows: “So to combat them you have got to have what they have that made them do what the man did. You got to have land and niggers and a fine house to combat them with” (A,A!. 229). Sutpen succeeds in having land and slaves, but it is the more subtle aspects of class which he misses that undermine his design and even bring his life to a tragic end.

Keywords: key words, Absalom; Class consciousness; Design

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