Student Question

What is Thomas Sutpen's design in Absalom, Absalom!?

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Absalom, Absalom! is a novel by William Faulkner (September 25, 1897–July 6, 1962), a Nobel-prize winning novelist from Mississippi. It was first published in 1936. As many of Faulkner's major novels, Absalom, Absalom! was set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County of Mississippi and portrays a set of characters who recur across his other novels.

Thomas Sutpen is a white man born to a poor family in West Virginia. His main aim in life is to achieve the wealth and social respect he lacked as a child due to his parents' poverty. He is also a racist who in part sees achieving social status as connected with whiteness. He eventually becomes a plantation owner and his success is built on oppression of blacks.

His "grand design" refers to his path toward wealth and social position by marriage to an upper-class woman and success as a plantation owner. He sees the tainted of mixed racial heritage in his associates as a major obstacle to this design.

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