Absalom, Absalom! Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Characterize Thomas Sutpen as he is portrayed by Rosa Coldfield's description in Chapter 1.

In Chapter 1, Rosa Coldfield characterizes Sutpen as a savage, seemingly heartless man. His wife, who seemed to waste away after their marriage, asked her sister to protect her children after she died, presumably from Sutpen himself. Sutpen seems to enjoy violence; he derives enjoyment from fighting with his slaves and from allowing his children to watch. Furthermore, Sutpen is from a questionable background. No one knows where he comes from or where he got his money.

2. Why is Rosa Coldfield telling her story to Quentin Compson?

Rosa sent specifically for Quentin so he could be the audience for her story. Quentin's father believes that she chose Quentin because Quentin's grandfather was the first man in Jefferson to accept Thomas Sutpen and, by extension, Rosa may believe that the Compson family is partially responsible for how Sutpen ruined her family. In addition, Mr. Compson says that Rosa needs someone who is young and a gentleman to "go with her," though it is not yet revealed to where Rosa wants to go. Rosa herself suggests that since Quentin will be an educated man some day, he may write out Rosa's story.

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