New Orleans in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

Location Key: 
Display Label: 
New Orleans
Type: 
OutOfYoknapatawpha
Authority : 
Text (when unambiguous)
X: 
2327
Y: 
556
Description: 

New Orleans is a major location in Absalom, though the representation of it is almost entirely constructed by characters who may never have been there. It is most elaborated evoked by Mr. Compson in Chapter 4, during his reconstruction of the visit Bon and Henry pay to the city on the eve of the Civil War. New Orleans already had a reputation as a sensuous place, but Compson's account oozes sexuality. The city's architecture is "a little curious, a little femininely flamboyant and therefore to Henry opulent, sensuous, sinful" (87). The remainder of his account is a heavily guided tour through a realm of aristocratic pleasures. The stops include: the city's public spaces ("the flash and glitter of a myriad carriage wheels," "women, enthroned" and "men in linen a little finer and diamonds a little brighter," 88); the private auction house in which mixed-race women are sold as concubines ("a neighborhood a little decadent," the place "invested . . . with something of secret and curious and unimaginable delights" (89); the adjacent enclosed dueling ground, with "only the most recent of the brown stains showing" (90); the living quarters of the woman Compson calls Bon's mistress and her child: "a place created for and by voluptuousness" (91); and "Bon's rooms" in an unspecified part of the city (95). In the larger novel, New Orleans figures as the place where Bon comes from, and where his mother and the unnamed lawyer who shape his destiny live; there are several scenes in both her house (with its "rich baroque" furnishings, 263) and his office (with its "secret drawer in the secret safe," 241).

Role: 
Site of Event
Status: 
Continuous

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