New Orleans, Louisiana in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

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New Orleans
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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 first mentioned as the place that the French architect who designs Sutpen's plantation goes "back to New Orleans" when he leaves the county after two years; this suggests that Sutpen probably came through New Orleans on his way to Yoknapatawpha (26). The city is most elaborately evoked by Mr. Compson in Chapter 4, during his reconstruction of the visit Bon and Henry pay to New Orleans on the eve of the Civil War. New Orleans already had a reputation as a sensuous place, 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). The remainder of his account is a heavily guided tour through a realm of aristocratic pleasures. The stops include: the city's public spaces ("the flash and glitter of a myriad carriage wheels," "women, enthroned" and "men in linen a little finer and diamonds a little brighter," 88); the private auction house in which mixed-race women are sold as concubines ("a neighborhood a little decadent," the place "invested . . . with something of secret and curious and unimaginable delights" (89); the adjacent enclosed dueling ground, with "only the most recent of the brown stains showing" (90); the living quarters of the woman Compson calls Bon's mistress and her child: "a place created for and by voluptuousness" (91); and "Bon's rooms" in an unspecified part of the city (95). In the larger novel, New Orleans figures as the place where Bon comes from, and where his mother and the unnamed lawyer who shape his destiny live; there are several scenes in both her house (with its "rich baroque" furnishings, 263) and his office (with its "secret drawer in the secret safe," 241).

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City; Slave Market