Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Thomas Sutpen

Thomas Sutpen, the owner of Sutpen’s Hundred in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Born of a poor white family in the mountains of Western Virginia, he grows up to become an ambitious man of implacable will. After his arrival in Mississippi, he thinks he can win his neighbors’ respect by building a huge mansion and marrying the daughter of a respectable merchant. When he is not driving his wild African slaves and a kidnapped French architect to finish construction of his magnificent house, he seeks relaxation by fighting his most powerful slaves. Wishing to found a family dynasty, he wants, more than anything else, to have a male heir. When one son is killed and the other disappears, Sutpen, now aging, fathers a child by Milly, the granddaughter of Wash Jones, one of his tenants. After learning that the child is a girl, he rejects and insults Milly. Because of his callous rejection, old Wash Jones kills him.

Ellen Coldfield

Ellen Coldfield, the wife chosen by Thomas Sutpen because he believes she is “adjunctive” to his design of founding a plantation family. A meek, helpless woman, she is completely dominated by her husband.

Henry Sutpen

Henry Sutpen, the son born to Thomas and Ellen Sutpen. Unlike his sister Judith, he faints when he sees his father fighting with slaves. At first, not knowing that Charles Bon is also Sutpen’s son, impressionable Henry idolizes and imitates that suave young man. Later, after their return from the Civil War, he learns Bon’s true identity and kills him to keep Judith from marrying her half brother, who is part black.

Charles Bon

Charles Bon, Thomas Sutpen’s unacknowledged son by his earlier marriage in Haiti. A polished man of the world, he forms a close friendship with the more provincial Henry, whom he meets at college, and he becomes engaged to Judith Sutpen. When the two return from the Civil War, Bon’s charming...

(The entire section is 813 words.)