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Neither Black Nor White Yet BothThematic Explorations of Interracial Literature$
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Werner Sollors

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195052824

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195052824.001.0001

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Incest and Miscegenation

Incest and Miscegenation

(p.285) Chapter Ten Incest and Miscegenation
Neither Black Nor White Yet Both

Werner Sollors

Oxford University Press

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

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