Sutpen Plantation Gardens (Location Key)


This location represents the two kinds of gardens at Sutpen's Hundred in Absalom!: the decorative, formal gardens laid out by the French architect as one way for the house to assert its status, and the kitchen gardens that produce vegetables for the people who lived at the remote plantation. Rosa Coldfield spends time in both. During a visit in the summer of 1860, she wanders down the "raked and sanded paths" of the formal garden, imagining Bon and Judith's courtship, an image that caused "a child's vacant fairy-tale to come alive in that garden" (117-18). In their reconstruction of the story, Quentin and Shreve also imaginatively inhabit this garden, seeing "the sister and the lover in the garden" vicariously through Henry Sutpen's eyes as they "paced slowly" among the "jasmine, spiraea, honeysuckle, perhaps myriad scentless unpickable Cherokee roses" - a description that dissolves when they remember that "the time had been winter in that garden . . . and hence no bloom nor leaf" (236). When Rosa moves out to the plantation after Bon's death, she works with Judith and Clytemnestra in the kitchen gardens, "growing and tended and harvesting with our own hands the food we ate" (125). Rosa is in this garden, hoeing an "okra bed," when her "courtship" begins (132). Both courtships fail.

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Sutpen Plantation Gardens
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Sutpen Plantation Gardens