Absalom, Absalom! Topics for Further Study
by William Faulkner

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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Think of a story that is told in your family, especially by the older members. Write three versions of the story as told by three very different members of your family.

Faulkner died in 1962, just as the civil rights movement was gaining momentum. Evaluate the modern-day South and prepare a speech or essay containing what you believe would be Faulkner’s views on the results of the civil rights movement.

Create a multimedia character study of either Thomas Sutpen or Rosa Coldfield from a psychological perspective. To complete this project, you will need to conduct basic research on psychological theories of personality and behavior.

Research the Irish poet William Butler Yeats. Prepare a comparison of his relationship to Ireland and Faulkner’s relationship to the South. Be sure to explore how these relationships are expressed in the men’s writing and to pay particular attention to each writer’s attempts to create a mythology for his land.

Examine the various mythic elements of the Sutpen story. In what ways does Faulkner create a mythical setting and characters? Look for allusions, themes, techniques, and other connections to myth. Present your findings in an essay.

Faulkner originally planned to entitle the book Dark House. Why would this have been a good title, and how would it have altered your reading of the novel? Also consider why Absalom, Absalom! is a good title. Review the biblical story of Absalom’s death in Samuel 18:2 and how it affects David. Which of the two titles do you think is the better choice?

Some readers believe that Henry kills Charles because he cannot allow his sister to marry her own half-brother. Others maintain that he kills Charles because he cannot allow his sister to marry a man who has black ancestry. Hold a debate in which one side argues for the first motivation, and the other side argues for the second motivation. The strongest arguments will come from the action of the novel, the character of Henry, and the cultural context of the story.