Charles Sutpen Bon

Character Key Number: 
95
Display Name: 
Charles Sutpen Bon
Sort Name: 
Bon, Charles Sutpen
Parent Character Key: 
Ever Present in Yoknapatawpha?: 
Yes
Biography: 

In Absalom! Charles Bon is the son of Sutpen's first marriage and part Negro - although those facts are not known for most of the novel or to anyone in Yoknapatawpha except his father, his half-brother and Quentin Compson, and in the end they may not even be 'facts' at all. Such is the ambiguous nature of Absalom! as a story about the way people construct stories and histories. The question of why his fiancee's brother killed him at the end of the Civil War is the mystery to which the novel's narrators, none of whom ever saw Bon, keep returning; each casts Bon in a different kind of narrative. 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). Bon is referred to again, though not by name, in The Unvanquished; in that one mention - Sutpen's "son killed his daughter's fiancé on the eve of the wedding and vanished" (222) - the powerful questions that the character of "Bon" raises in Absalom! don't come up at all.