Absalom Absalom and Love

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Many of the novels we have read this semester contain prevailing themes that provide insight into American society. One of these themes that we have closely examined throughout the semester is a person’s right to love. Love is undoubtedly a powerful force in one’s life. As we have seen through our readings, however, this force is often obstructed by the need to conform to social standards. Whether or not a couple is ALLOWED to be in love says a lot about what is socially acceptable for that particular area and time period. Although love is technically a right given to all, American Literature shows how it is often denied by social standards and therefore ceases to exist.

William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! tells Rosa Coldfield’s version of how Thomas Sutpen was the demise of her and her family. As the story progresses, it becomes known that Thomas’s son, Henry, kills Charles Bon to prevent him from marrying his sister, Judith. One would infer that Henry’s reason for his desperate need to prevent their marriage was because Charles was their half-brother, and therefore their marriage would be considered incest. We come to find out, however, that this is not exactly the case. In Chapter 8, in response to whether or not Judith will marry Bon she says “Yes. I have decided. Brother or not, I have decided. I will. I will (283).” As the chapter progresses, however, Quentin and Shreve accept that “it’s the miscegenation, not the incest, which (they) can’t bear (285).” In this case, two socially unaccepted taboos prevent Judith from pursuing her relationship with Bon. The fact that it is worse in the eyes of her family that Judith may be marrying a man with black blood than a man who is her relative, however, says a lot about how strong racial prejudices were in the south during the 1800s. Judith’s right to love Bon is forcefully obstructed by social norms, and is a perfect example of Southern culture during that time period.

Another instance of love being...