Tidewater Virginia in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

The Coldfield family is originally from Virginia (11), and "Richmond" is one of the cultural capitals of the Old South (188), but the most significant "Virginia" in the novel is the "nest of Tidewater plantations" (195) located in the "slack lowlands about the mouth of the James River" (178). This is the place where Thomas Sutpen discovers and loses what the novel calls his "innocence" (178).

Sutpens' Journey through Virginia in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

The novel's account of the way the Sutpen family "fell" from the mountains in western Virginia (180) to "the slack lowlands about the mouth of the James River" (181) is deliberately vague. They travel in "a lop-sided two wheeled cart" pulled by "two spavined oxen" (181), and the journey takes long enough for one of the family's daughters to have one child and become pregnant again with another. Along the way, the children repeatedly "sit in the cart outside the doors of doggeries and taverns" while the father gets drunk; the "huge bull of a nigger" who throws Mr.

Western Virginia in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

Thomas Sutpen was born in the mountains of western Virginia. By 1863 that would be "West Virginia," as Quentin calls it, but as Shreve reminds him, "West Virginia" didn't exist as a separate entity until 1861, when the people in that region seceded from Virginia after Virginia seceded from the Union, and didn't exist as a state until 1863, when it was admitted to the U.S. (179). The narrative's depiction of Sutpen's birthplace relies on a set of simplifications that sharply distinguish it as a rugged frontier from the older, more socially stratified slave-holding regions of the South.

Sutpens' Journey through Virginia

Tidewater Virginia

Western Virginia

Old Bailey

Heaven in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

We don't really have a place on any map for "Heaven," but just as The Hamlet contains a scene in "Hell," Absalom! includes the reunion that Mr. Compson imagines between Wash and Sutpen, in the place to which they both go after their deaths, a place "serene, pleasant, unmarked by time or change of weather," and even with a new "scuppernong" arbor in which they can sit (152).

Shiloh in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

Shiloh, located in Southwestern Tennessee, was the location of a major battle during the Civil War. The novel also calls it "Pittsburg Landing" (217), the name by which it was known in the South. The fighting took place on April 6-7th, 1862; by the end of "the second day and the lost battle" (275), casualties on both sides totaled 23,746. General Compson lost an arm there, and in one of the novel's many unresolved narrative questions, either Henry helped save the wounded Bon (217), or Bon rescued the wounded Henry (275).

Tennessee in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

Goodhue Coldfield's father is from Tennessee, and it was presumably from there that he moved to Yoknapatawpha.


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