This story about the four Yoknapatawpha generations of Sutpens relies heavily on three generations of Compsons. General Compson, who was Thomas Sutpen's "only friend" (220), is the source for what is known about Sutpen's life before he became the county's largest land- and slave-owner. The General's son, referred to only as Father, becomes the novel's dominant voice as he passes what the General told him about the Sutpens, along with his own commentary, on to his son Quentin. And Quentin is the modern Southerner around whom the narrative organizes itself, who has "heard too much . . . had to listen to too much" (168). It is significant that most of the Compsons never appear in Absalom! As opposed to The Sound and the Fury, Quentin here is defined as the child of a place and its historical past more than as member of a particular family. What Mr. Compson says to Quentin about incest, for instance, may remind readers of the earlier novel of Quentin's relationship with his sister, but this novel's emphasis is unmistakenly cultural rather than Freudian. As in the earlier short stories "That Evening Sun" and "A Justice," Quentin is exposed to a new realm of experience, only here that experience is not found in a Negro cabin or an Indian village but on a plantation that is still grander than the Compson estate. The novel maintains a sense of the class difference between the older Compson family and the parvenu Sutpens; "your grandfather or Judge Benbow," Father tells Quentin, would have enacted the role of gentleman "more effortlessly" (35). But that distance cannot shelter Quentin from the anguished sense that "maybe it took . . . Thomas Sutpen to make all of us" (210). Sutpen's "trouble," Father tells Quentin in the middle of repeating what his father told him, "was innocence" (178). Quentin's trouble is knowledge. That is what he inherits as a Compson in this novel.

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Compsons in Absalom, Absalom!
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Affiliated Characters

General Compson - Absalom, Absalom!
Mr. Compson - Absalom, Absalom!
Quentin Compson - Absalom, Absalom!
Quentin Compson's Aunt - Absalom, Absalom!
Quentin Compson's Grandmother - Absalom, Absalom!