Charles Etienne Saint-Valery Bon

Character Key Number: 
Display Name: 
Charles Etienne Saint-Valery Bon
Sort Name: 
Bon, Charles Etienne Saint-Valery
Parent Character Key: 
Ever Present in Yoknapatawpha?: 

In Absalom!, the "little boy" in the picture that is found on Charles Bon's body (75) is Bon's "sixteenth part negro son" (80); his grandiloquent name is Charles Etienne Saint-Valery Bon. When Judith and Clytemnestra bring him from New Orleans to Sutpen's Hundred after his mother dies, Judith tells him to "Call me Aunt Judith" (169), perhaps without realizing that he is in fact her half-nephew and her father's grandson. A "thin delicate child with a smooth ivory sexless face" (157) dressed in "expensive Fauntleroy clothing" (158), he grows up into a tortured adult who wears "harsh and shapeless denim" overalls, the "burlesque uniform and regalia of the tragic burlesque of the sons of Ham" (160), married to a "coal black" woman (166) and living as a tenant farmer on his grandfather's plantation "in one of the dilapidated slave cabins which he rebuilt" (167). Mr. Compson says he lives in a "Gethsemane which he had decreed and created for himself" (169), but it would be more accurate to say he is crucified by the cross in his blood, as 'blood' was racially defined by the world into which he was born. He is like Joe Christmas, the central character in Light in August, caught between the races in a strictly segregated society.