Sutpen Plantation (Location Key)


Sutpen's plantation first appears in the short story "Wash." In the novel Absalom, Absalom! it is called "Sutpen's Hundred," the "biggest single" cotton plantation in antebellum Yoknapatawpha (56), "a hundred square miles of some of the best virgin bottom land in the country" (26). Realistically, even in the context of Faulkner's imaginary world Yoknapatawpha would have to be a lot larger to contain a plantation of that size, but the obvious effect Faulkner is after is 'bigness.' At its height at the moment the Civil War begins it's by far the most prosperous plantation in the county. Absalom! traces the history of the place from its origins in the 1830s to its decay and eventual destruction in the early 20th century. The "formal gardens" designed by a French architect (4) become "ruined and weed-choked flower beds" (108). The huge mansion - the "largest edifice" in the county, "bigger than the courthouse" (30), furnished with "crystal chandeliers" (33) and embellished with details like its "formal door beneath its fanlight imported pane by pane from Europe" (150) - "looms" at the end, "square and enormous, with jagged half-toppled chimneys" and a "sagging" roofline, "with a smell of desolation and decay as if the wood of which it was built were flesh" (293). And by the end of the novel it's consumed in a fire that was started by one of Sutpen's own children, ironically to protect another of his children - both of whom perish with the house. As a plantation, it was originally worked by slaves; it is drastically reduced in size after the Civil War, when "a portion of the Sutpen plantation" is farmed "on shares" by Sutpen's own, unrecognized, grandson (169); still later the entire property "reverts to the state," and is "bought and sold and bought and sold again and again and again" (173). The other locations on the property described in the novel - the garden, the arbor, the gate and drive, the stable, the slave quarters, the graveyard and the store Sutpen opens - have their own 'Location' entries.

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Sutpen Plantation
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Sutpen Plantation