"Of having been colored": the racial hybridity of Thomas Sutpen

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

This thesis will reveal the potential for racial hybridity in Thomas Sutpen from William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!. Using critical theory concerning the presence of mixed-race individuals in 19th and early 20th century America, I will demonstrate that Sutpen falls in the category of the literary trope of the tragic mulatto. I will begin with a thorough review of the criticism concerning race in Absalom, while demonstrating the drastic hole left in many critic's dealings with Thomas Sutpen. I will then provide a close reading of various key passages that call into question Sutpen's race and place him within the framework of the socially marginalized African American of the American South. Next, I will demonstrate that Sutpen fits into the mold of many figures that exist solely within the African American Folkloric tradition. By demonstrating the arc of the novel as Sutpen's drive towards self-actualization, I will demonstrate how he takes on the role of both the trickster and badman figure. Finally, I will discuss Absalom in terms of narrative theory and demonstrate that the subjectivity by which Sutpen is portrayed reflects a racialized reading of Julia Kristeva's symbolic and semiotic.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
English as a second language