“Decorous Ordering:” The Hierarchy of Social Narrative and the Individual in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Alex Smith (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site: http://library.unca.edu/
Joseph Urgo

Abstract: In the novel Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner, the reader is met with a handful of narrators attempting to tell the legend of Thomas Sutpen, a Mississippi patriarch. The reader is led to interpret a barrage of “facts,” alongside the narrators, in an attempt to find the “truth”. Through a close reading it becomes apparent that finding the objective truth of the legend is not the aim of the novel, that objective truth is perhaps irrecoverable, and that knowledge is subjective. By examining not just what is said, but who is saying it, and more importantly, to whom, this essay seeks to construct an argument that the novel’s structure is one that uses story-telling to mirror the process of the perpetuation of a social hierarchy’s ideology, where the ability to narrate represents social authority over cultural ideology. In the novel, the word “love” recurs in different contexts as it relates to the relationships between individuals and the society they are a part of. In this analysis of the text, the author uses the word “love” as a signifier of the individual beyond the confines of social position in order to further examine the relationship between the individual and the greater society in a culture based on a distinct hierarchy.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
William Faulkner, social narrative, truth, cultural hierarchy

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