Chapter

Incest and Miscegenation

Werner Sollors

in Neither Black Nor White Yet Both

Published in print October 1997 | ISBN: 9780195052824
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855155 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195052824.003.0011
Incest and Miscegenation

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How do incest and miscegenation relate to each other? One of the most terrifying scenes in American literature is arguably Shrevlin McCannon and Quentin Compson's imaginative speculation, in William Faulkner's novel Absalom, Absalom! (1936), about what may really have occured in 1865 when Henry Sutpen murdered Charles Bon at the gate of Sutpen's Hundred, an act no one else witnessed, but about which different stories circulate. Quentin and Shreve ultimately infer that the white Henry must have murdered his mixed-race half-brother in order to stop Bon's marriage with Henry's white sister, Judith Sutpen, for the union would have provoked both brother–sister incest and miscegenation. Later, Henry comes back to his father's house and secretly lives and ultimately dies there with his biracial sister, Clytie. This theatrical, arid climactic reconstruction comes near the end of the novel, set in 1910, shortly before Quentin commits suicide.

Keywords: incest; miscegenation; Shrevlin McCannon; Quentin Compson; William Faulkner; Absalom Absalom!; murder; Judith Sutpen; Henry

Chapter.  24308 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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