Absalom, Absalom! Study Guide

Absalom, Absalom! Study Guide

Original title:
Absalom, Absalom!

“Absalom, Absalom” is a story of a single man, Thomas Sutpen, the local hero, told by several different people who knew him. The novel is quite difficult to read, because of the absence of any chronological order and the controversial memories of every person involved. While the young and curious protagonist starts to investigate the biography of Sutpen, the image of a flawless hero and a patriarch begins to dissipate, showing the real family drama of pride, arrogance, cruelty and lots and lots of awful mysteries that should better stay hidden.

The personality and decisions of Thomas Sutpen are well-known, but the reasons of his decisions stay in the shadow. That is what the investigation is dedicated to: discovering the real story of Sutpen’s family and the legacy left after him.

The narrative style of a novel is unique, because we, like the main character, know nothing at the beginning. The author doesn’t bother to explain us anything, turning us from the spectators to the full-fledged participants of the investigation. The lack of any information may irritate us, as readers, at first, but when we adjust to such a style and accept the fact that no chronology would be ever presented to us, we can get a truly enjoyable experience while reading “Absalom, Absalom”. The Biblical allusion isn’t random, moreover, it can spoil half of the story if you know where to look. You may read this book several times to find all the allusions, but their sheer quantity shows that it isn’t only a book about the history of the South, but a deep philosophical work about the actions of one person, affecting the other so much that the real person becomes unrecognizable in their eyes.

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