Sutpen Plantation Graveyard (Location Key)


Like several other Yoknapatawpha families in other fictions, the Sutpens have their own graveyard in Absalom!. It is "half a mile" from the big house (153), in a "clump of cedars on the crest of the hill" (153). Thomas and Ellen Sutpen are buried there under the big tombstones made from imported marble. Charles Bon and Bon's son and Judith Sutpen are also buried there, under smaller stones - Judith's is "at the opposite side" of the cemetery from the other four (170). The epitaphs are notable for what they clarify (including a number of specific dates), what they misrepresent, and what they leave out about the relationships among the dead who lie there.

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Sutpen Graveyard
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Most of Chapter 6 in Absalom, Absalom! takes place in the Sutpen family graveyard, which lies in a "clump of cedars on the crest of a hill" about half a mile away from Sutpen's mansion house (152). It contains five markers. Colonel Sutpen and his wife Ellen are buried under "two flat heavy vaulted slabs" of marble which were imported from Italy in the middle of the Civil War - and which were "present at [the battle of] Gettysburg" where the Yoknapatawpha regiment that Sutpen commanded saw action and where so many other corpses were made (153, 154). Their daughter Judith also lies there, but on "the opposite side of the enclosure," where her sister-in-law Rosa had her buried (170). The other two graves belong to Charles Bon and his son, who are Sutpens too, though Judith may not have known that when she ordered their headstones. (The remains of Sutpen's other two children, Clytemnestra and Henry, never make it to the graveyard; they are effectively cremated when Sutpen's mansion burns down, and their ashes mingled with the ashes of the house.) In Chapter 6, Quentin Compson and his father take refuge from the rain under the cedars, and while they sit beside the graves Mr. Compson disinters parts of the Sutpen story for his son, who thinks several times that "I have heard too much" (168). It is, as the narrator notes, "dark among the cedars" (153).

Occupants: Ellen Sutpen, Charles Bon, Thomas Sutpen, Charles Etienne Saint-Valery Bon, Judith Sutpen.

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Sutpen Plantation Graveyard
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Sutpen Plantation Graveyard