Study Guide

Absalom, Absalom!

by William Faulkner

Absalom, Absalom! Essay - Critical Essays

Sample Essay Outlines

Sample Analytical Paper Topics
These are topics on which you can write a substantial analytical paper. They are designed to test your understanding of major themes and details from the play as a whole. Following the topics are outlines you can use as a starting point for writing an analytical paper.

Topic #1
Discuss the significance of racism to the plot structure of Absalom, Absalom!. How did it contribute to the downfall of the Sutpen clan? How was the downfall of the clan foreordained?

I. Thesis Statement: Racism is a central issue to the plot of Absalom, Absalom! and contributes to the downfall of Thomas Sutpen’s empire.

II. Outline of Thomas Sutpen’s rise:

A. Sutpen’s humiliation at the Pettibone plantation.
B. Sutpen’s trip to seek his fortune in Haiti; his role in the Haitian uprising, and his marriage to Eulalia Bon.
C. Sutpen’s renunciation of Eulalia Bon and their son, Charles Bon.
D. Sutpen’s building of “Sutpen’s Hundred” using slave labor.

III. Ways in which the past returned to haunt Thomas Sutpen:

A. His son, Charles Bon, returns and engages himself to Sutpen’s daughter, Judith.
B. Henry Sutpen chooses friendship with Charles Bon over his relationship with his father.
C. Henry kills his friend and his sister’s betrothed, Charles Bon.
D. Charles Etienne St. Velery Bon appears at Sutpen’s Hundred, and acts out the family guilt by marrying a fully-African woman.
E. The final child of the clan is not only African, but is also developmentally disabled.

IV. Conclusion: In Faulkner’s view, the Sutpen empire is doomed, due to its basic reliance on an unsustainable economic structure of inequality—likewise the slave economy of the American South was doomed.

Topic #2
People become what they behold, and the ugliness of the American South helped to turn Thomas Sutpen into a brutal man. His deeds are repaid severalfold.

I. Thesis Statement: People raised in a climate of brutality and inhumanity will grow up to emulate what they see, and their actions will be repaid severalfold.

II. Examples of humiliation and brutality suffered and inflicted by Sutpen:

A. Turned away from the front door of a house by a liveried slave, the young Sutpen learns a lesson about class and status.
B. Sutpen resolves that he will be the one dishing out humiliation, not the one who suffers it, even though he is from...

(The entire section is 1064 words.)