Charles Bon

Character Key: 
Display Name: 
Charles Bon
Sort Name: 
Bon, Charles
Race: 
MixedBlackWhite
Gender: 
Male
Class: 
Upper Class
Rank: 
Major
Vitality: 
Dies
Family: 
Sutpen
Family (new): 
Date of Birth: 
Saturday, January 1, 1831 to Saturday, December 31, 1831
Origin: 
Haiti
Cause of Death: 
Murder
Biography: 

The child of Thomas Sutpen's first marriage and the fiance of Sutpen's daughter Judith whose murder in 1865 is still an unsolved mystery in 1910. He is first mentioned by name in Chapter 3, where Mr. Compson introduces him into the narrative as "Charles Bon of New Orleans," an older friend of Henry Sutpen's and fellow student at the University of Mississippi; "a young man of a worldly elegance and assurance beyond his years, handsome, apparently wealthy and with for background the shadowy figure of a legal guardian" (58). On the eve of the Civil War the engagement between him and Judith causes a rift in the Sutpen family. During the War, he and Henry serve together in the University Grays, Bon "receiving a lieutenancy before the company entered its first engagement" (98). In the last days of the War, he is killed by Henry just outside the gate to Sutpen's plantation, carrying in the silver case that Judith had given him a photograph of an "octoroon" woman and her child (75). None of the storytellers in the novel, not even Rosa, ever see Bon in person, and his life and character remain as much a mystery as his death. To Mr. Compson, for whom Bon is "the curious one" (74), he is an "indolent fatalist" (83), "miscast for the time and knowing it" (78). To Rosa, he is "Charles Bon, Charles Good, Charles-Husband-soon-to-be" (119), one of the Confederate heroes about whom she writes poetry. Shreve and Quentin first cast him as an unloved and psychologically homeless child longing for his father's recognition, before Shreve ends up calling him a "black son of a bitch" (286). Long after his death, his grandson and the man who murdered him end up living together at Sutpen's Hundred.

Individual or Group: 
Individual
Character changes class in this text: 
Date of Death: 
Wednesday, May 3, 1865

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