The Themes of Faulkner's Absalom! Absalom! Essay

The Themes of Faulkner's Absalom! Absalom! Essay

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The Themes of Faulkner's Absalom! Absalom!


The theme of Absalom! Absalom! is the connectedness of humanity and the power of illusion vs. truth. In order to really translate these entities to the reader Faulkner uses the form of stream-of-consciousness. In this style of metaphorical writing one thing can lead you to all things, and vice versa. This is the form of the novel. One can compare this work to a gothic novel, to a Greek tragedy, to an entire metaphor for the situation of the South in itself, but the content is mainly giving us a metaphor for the connectedness of humans. He gives us truth wrapped in subjective interpretation, based on half-baked memories and cut up pieces of time and space. Faulkner's use of confusion, narration shifts, and generally chaotic style give us a form that makes us work for control of it. Unlike Hemmingway, who pounds you with inane generalities and dialogue, Faulkner suspends us from the text, and then slowly builds again drawing us in again from a different angle, a different aspect of the same story. As we traverse the sporadic and courageous landscape of the human mind we are dragged into the maybes, perhaps, and could have beens that are sometimes more true than the stark, strange reality that hits us straight in the face. The passage on the bottom of page 210 reads,

“Yes. Maybe we are both Father.  Maybe nothing ever happens once and is finished.  Maybe happen is never once but like ripples maybe on water after the pebble sinks, the ripples moving on, spreading, the pool attached by a narrow umbilical water-cord to the next pool which the first pool feeds, has fed, did feed, let this second pool contain a different temperature of water, a different molecularity of having se...


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...t the truth would even mean, considering who was left to even care. This is the ebb and flow of the mind, the heart, the will; the movement of consciousness as it becomes memory, desperately trying to piece together a long forgotten truth that has now become a burning mystery set in the very being of existence.

          Faulkner uses these tactics of piecemealing, shuffling, circular arrangement, narrator shifts, and stream-of-consciousness to put the reader in the shoes of the Everyhuman, the tie that bind us to each other, to all things, one fading as another rises, rising and fading together always already. He shows us truth is an elusive chimera, never able to be pinned down for showcasing in all its realness. Only the fragments of the broken mirror of truth can be pieced together through memory and will, and perhaps with courage and a bit of shrewdness.

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