Faulkner's Southern Characters' Motivation Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1412 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature  ·  Written: December 5, 2019

Then Quentin tells them to his roommate Shreve at Harvard. Quentin’s version of events as he tells them differs from the versions he received in terms of where he puts the emphasis. In his telling of the story of Sutpen, Quentin reveals his own bias, his own love for the myth of the South (Miller). And as Dobbs points out, Quentin is too enamored of the South to move forward meaningfully. He is too tragic in this sense.

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Thomas Sutpen’s motivations are thus filtered through the various lenses provided by Quentin in Absalom, Absalom!—but they can be discerned more or less by what he does. Sutpen is idealistic and wants to be great. He comes from poverty, but has an idea that he can become a plantation owner. He is ambitious, and ambition is his motivation. He wants to be rich and he wants to be the patriarch of his own family. Having left his own family back in West Virginia he is starting out from scratch in Mississippi. His story is full of melodrama (a son from a previous marriage falls in love with his daughter, for instance, and that whole episode leads to tragedy). Essentially, Sutpen achieves his ambition—becomes wealthy and a patriarch—but he does it all without love. It is as though he is a machine grinding his way through the motions the whole time. He has sins that he has not paid for, and they come back to haunt him. Thus he is the South personified—a rise to wealth, but a debt to pay for that eventually comes calling—and he falls.

Term Paper on Faulkner's Southern Characters' Motivation Assignment

Darl Bundren is not much different from Quentin—except he has none of the romanticism that Quentin has in terms of the South. Darl despises his family though he also cares for them. He is the most thoughtful and articulate member of the family and he narrates a good portion of As I Lay Dying, telling the story of the journey to Jefferson where the mother is to be buried. What makes Darl complex is that he has no taste or love for the journey. He finds the whole thing repellant, even though it is his mother’s wish to be buried there. He sees his family in all their sordidness and wants to stop the whole proceeding, shelter them, get them to return home—anything but continuing on with the journey, which he sees as shameful because it is exposing them all to the world that they should not see and that should not see them. As Hussey puts it, Darl is a kind of poetic madman as he sees so much that it makes no sense how he sees it all except by some sort of visionary power, some madness or genius—and yet it is overwhelming and it prompts him to set fire to the barn and ultimately leads to his being taken away to the asylum. This is not necessarily a sad ending for Darl, since asylum is really what he wants and has been seeking: he has wanted it for his whole family, though—but only he is allowed to have it.

In conclusion, the three characters of Faulkner—Quentin Compson, Thomas Sutpen and Darl Bundren—are cut from the same cloth: they are all southerners—and yet they are all different. Thomas is the most artificial of the three, if only because the reader never really gets inside his head the way he is permitted to receive the inner thoughts of both Darl and Quentin. Darl and Quentin are unhappy southerners, grieving over some hurt in their spirit. Thomas is a proud southerner, grieved by past sins that bring him low.

Works Cited
  1. Dobbs, Ricky Floyd. "Case study in social neurosis: Quentin Compson and the lost cause." Papers on Language and Literature 33.4 (1997): 366.
  2. Hussey, James. "“A sort of madman with poetic gifts”: Darl Bundren and Henri Bergson." Explorations: A Journal of Language and Literature 3 (2015): 56-69.
  3. Miller, Nathaniel A. "Felt, Not Seen Not Heard:" Quentin Compson, Modernist Suicide and Southern History." Studies in the Novel 37.1 (2005): 37-49.
  4. Railton, Ben. "What else could a southern gentleman do?": Quentin Compson, Rhett Butler, and miscegenation." The Southern Literary Journal 35.2… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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