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

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial