University of Mississippi in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

The University of Mississippi opened in 1844, about fifteen years before Henry Sutpen and Charles Bon meet there (despite what Quentin says about "the tenth graduating class since it was founded," 288). They both attend the Law School, which opened in 1854 - about five years before they meet. In the novel, as in fact, the University is in Oxford, Mississippi, which is "forty miles" from Sutpen's Hundred (249).

Mississippi River in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

The Mississippi River figures in two different ways in the novel. It is the route followed by the steamboats that provide the means of transportation for the characters who travel between Yoknapatawpha and New Orleans, as would historically been the case in the decades before railroads appeared in the region. And as "that Continental Troth, that River which runs . . . through the physical land," it is the symbolic "geologic umbilical" that connects Quentin Compson as a southerner with Shreve McCannon as a Canadian (208).

Mississippi River

Carolina in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

When Sutpen first arrives in Jefferson, it is clear that he is "no longer son sent out from some old quiet country like Virginia or Carolina" (11) - as elsewhere in Faulkner's fictions, for example, the first Sartoris and the first McCaslin in Yoknapatawpha are from originally from "Carolina." In this context, "Carolina" (not specifically North or South Carolina) is associated with social prestige, an aristocratic pedigree.

Memphis in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

Founded in 1819, Memphis, Tennessee, is the closest big city to Yoknapatawpha County, and appears more frequently in Faulkner's novels and stories than any other out of Yoknapatawpha location. In Absalom! its first mention is as the "Memphis market" where one could go to "buy livestock or slaves" (31), a locution that recurs in its last mention ("trips to Memphis . . . to buy live stock or slaves," 268). It is also where Ellen takes Judith to buy her bridal trousseau (55), and where Judge Benbow goes to bet on horse races (172).

New Orleans in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

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 place of pleasure, 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).

Harvard University in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard is the oldest university in the U.S. The last four chapters of the novel are set, formally, in the dorm rooms that Quentin Compson and Shreve McCannon occupy as Harvard freshmen. Few details about the setting are provided, but as the site of Quentin and Shreve's sustained attempt to reconstruct the story of Thomas Sutpen, it is introduced as a kind of antithesis to Mississippi: "this strange room, across this strange iron New England snow" (141). Their dorm room is later described as a "warm and rosy orifice above the iron quad" (176).

Negro Store District in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

When Charles Etienne Saint-Valery Bon comes into Jefferson, he is usually found "blind or violently drunk in the negro store district on Depot Street" (170). In other Yoknapatawpha novels there are scenes set in the part of town where blacks live; in those texts it is called "Negro Hollow," "Freedman Town," and several other things. But in no other novel is there a reference to a district of black-owned businesses. Absalom! doesn't describe this district, or say what stores it contains, but the name of the street suggests it's near the railroad station.

Midwife|Dicey's Cabin in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

The old Negro midwife who delivers Milly Jones' baby lives "three miles" from the fishing camp (230).

Negro Store District


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