Unnamed Runaway Slave

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Unnamed Runaway Slave
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Unnamed Runaway Slave
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The "runaway slave" mentioned in Absalom! is one of the novel's ambiguities. In describing the "posse" that follows and arrests Sutpen, the narrator says that he "had a larger following than if he actually had been the runaway slave" (36). The use of "the" here clearly implies that a runaway slave had been mentioned earlier, but this is the text's only reference to a "runaway" (years later, during the Civil War, many of the enslaved people in Yoknapatawpha will self-emancipate by following the Union Army - but they are not pursued by any "following" whites). Faulkner heavily revised Absalom! over the years in which he wrote it, so the most likely explanation for this "slave" seems to be that he cut the earlier reference but forgot to change this phrase.