Quentin Compson

Grandson of Thomas Sutpen's first Yoknapatawpha County friend. Born, Jefferson, 1891. Attended Harvard, 1909-1910. Died, Cambridge, Mass., 1910.

Like Thomas Sutpen and Charles Bon, Quentin Compson is all too painfully aware of the complexities of the society into which he was born. Through his association with Rosa Coldfield, Quentin embarks upon a quest to apply order to his relativistic world.

Similar with the way that the reader of Gone With the Wind most closely identifies with the attempts of Melanie Wilkes to understand the disparate personalities which affect her life, the reader of Absalom, Absalom! cannot help but sympathize with Quentin's struggle for reconciliation with the story he uncovers.

In the passage, at Harvard and aided by his Canadian friend, Shreve, Quentin attempts to come to terms with the complexity of the South which spawned him.

". . . as he stared at Quentin (the Southerner, whose blood ran quick to cool, more supple to compensate for violent changes of temperature perhaps, perhaps merely nearer the surface) who sat bunched in his chair, his hands thrust into his pockets as if he were trying to hug himself warm between his arms, looking somehow fragile and even wan in the lamplight, the rosy glow which now had nothing of warmth, coziness, in it . . . "

--from chapter 8 of Absalom, Absalom!

(from chapter 9 of Absalom, Absalom!)

Quentin did not answer, staring at the window; then he could not tell if it was the actual window or the window's pale rectangle upon his eyelids, though after a moment it began to emerge. It began to take shape in its same curious, light, gravity-defying attitude--the once-folded sheet out of the wistaria Mississippi summer, the cigar smell, the random blowing of the fireflies. "The South," Shreve said. "The South. Jesus. No wonder you folks all outlive yourselves by years and years and years." It was becoming quite distinct; be would be able to decipher the words soon, in a moment; even almost now, now, now.

"I am older at twenty than a lot of people who have died," Quentin said.

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