Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wise me up

Kia ora friends

I finally cracked open the Faulkner, but I need some guidance. The ending of Chapter One, viz:

"I was not there to see the two Sutpen faces this time - once on Judith and once on the negro girl beside her - looking down through the square entrance to the loft."

Scale of one to ten - how shocking is this supposed to be? For the time of setting? For the time of publication? For today? Because it's the sort of thing no-one would blink twice at in New Zealand, even back in the day.



mrsdarwin said...

I don't think it's included for shock value -- Sutpen is definitely that sorta guy. I think it's just new plot information being dropped in without fanfare. Faulkner enjoys throwing plot details out with little build-up just to see if the reader is paying attention.

Emily J. said...

I thought the same thing at first, but then I wondered if the shock is that the little girls are witnessing the half naked men fight each other - and Sutpen fighting his slaves as an equal. This made me think that Judith was going to have more spine than she does. Or that she be more equality minded. But maybe it's that she doesn't blink at violence and inhumanity.

BettyDuffy said...

I think the shock is that there is this half-sister mentioned for the first time here. She's suddenly just there. Never been there before, but there she is for the rest of the novel. It gives the reader a twinge of is another revelation into Sutpen's character--but I'm not sure shock is the right word. I think it is, as Mrs D says, "he's that sorta guy." Now we know.

Otepoti said...


I don't think I'm finishing it before May, though.

Emily J. said...

There is also the appearance and response of Ellen in this episode - she knows about the fights, she knows about Clytie, she sees Henry whimpering and grabs him up, but feels powerless to save her daughter from the corruption she sees around her. Yet another illustration of how the family is doomed by of the father's thoughtlessness. His project begins and ends with himself.

mrsdarwin said...

That episode also emphasizes Ellen's ineffectiveness. She's a Southern Lady, I guess, but I think the description of her later on as an ethereal butterfly is a damning indictment of her inability to proactively protect her children.