"Absalom, Absalom!" and "Gone With The Wind"

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William Faulkner's classic Absalom, Absalom!, certainly ranks among the gems of twentieth century American literature and indeed is arguably the best Southern novel ever written. Indeed it might well be thought of as a metaphor of the Confederate legacy of the lost cause myth, which so desperately seeks an answer for how such a noble cause, championed by just and honorable men went down in utter collapse and defeat. For among the sorted affairs of the Sutpen clan lie the elements of destruction of Southern society. Cruelty, lies, deceit, greed, resentment, revenge, and worst of all in its white supremacist view, miscegenation. The summitry between this tragic tale, centered around the fictional plantation Sutpen's Hundred and the true history of the South is quite striking. For the work vividly contradicts the popular history of the Old South so tightly wrapped in visions of stately columned plantation manors surrounded by bountiful fields, worked by contently sated Negro slaves, who were paternally nurtured and well cared for by the benevolent stalwarts of Southern elitism, the rich, and overwhelmingly white planter class. Any white man who reached this pinnacle of success, was accepted as a member of respectable society regardless of their background or the circumstances which created their situation. In exchange for their care and protection, the slaves gratefully toiled in service to their masters, feeling as though a part of the family of the estate, each with his or her own small stake in the prosperity and reputation of the whole. The masters and their families lived a life of graceful ease up in the big house, tasked only with the planning and management of their estates and “people” in this romanticized version of the ... ... middle of paper ... ...ured those rich, white, men would remain in power. That Faulkner and Mitchell both wrote these conflicting novels about the legacy of the South is quite telling about the world view of Southern Whites, regardless of economic or social standing. Certainly it can not be easy to reconcile the fact that one's ancestors believed and acted as they did and yet were revered as heroes. Few places outside the dust bowl were in more dire straits as the rural South during the 1930's and perhaps many thought, as Faulkner's characters seemed to have, that perhaps God had still not forgiven their sins. Such are the answers which historians seek as they attempt to put the pieces of the past in order and try to solve the riddle of who we are and how we got here. Works Cited Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom! Modern Library College ed. New York: Random House, 1936. 378. Print.

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