Tidewater Virginia in Absalom, Absalom! (Location)

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Virginia Tidewater
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The Coldfield family is originally from Virginia (11), and "Richmond" is one of the cultural capitals of the Old South (188), but the most significant "Virginia" in the novel is the "nest of Tidewater plantations" (195) located in the "slack lowlands about the mouth of the James River" (178). This location includes "Jamestown," the British colony where "the first Sutpen" in the new world landed (180). It is also the place where Thomas Sutpen discovers and loses what the novel calls his "innocence" (178). It is imagined as the antithesis of the egalitarian and still largely natural world where Sutpen was born: it is "a country all divided and fixed and neat with a people living on it all divided and fixed and neat because of what color their skins happened to be and what they happened to own" (179). The most significant places in this place are the cabin where he and his family live, with its "rough partly rotten log walls" and "sagging roof" (190); the big house "two miles away," home of the planter for whom his father works, "the biggest house he had ever seen" (184); the quarters where this man's slaves live, with "their sound roofs and white wash," and the nearby commissary (185); the school which he attends "for about three months one winter" (194); and the hiding place to which he retreats after being ordered away from the front door of the big house - "a place where a game trail entered a cane brake and an oak tree had fallen across it and made a kind of cave" (188).

Site of Event
Plantation; White-occupied Cabin; Mansion; Quarters; Garden|Arbor; School; Woods|Wilderness