Figure 6: Essay Excerpt on Quentin and Shreve, Absalom, Absalom!

Below is a sample excerpt that falls under the comment “Clear Statement.”

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You may also print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

From one vantage point, the unbiased reader may perceive that of all the perspectives, Quentin and Shreve prove to be the most reliable in theirs.  For example, Shreve provides the objective viewpoint for he has no real stake in the retelling of the events.  The only way in which he becomes part of the drama is via Quentin.  In other words, he has no familial ties to Sutpen or to the other “character-narrators.”  And Quentin’s desire to reconcile Sutpen’s actions with that of the perception of his actions proves to be advantageous to understanding the role of history within the present.

Through his actions, we see an inability to reconcile self-perception and social perceptions in that Faulkner presents a character unsure of his heritage, but marks him early on in the novel as a Negro. For example, Faulkner actively participates in the assigning of constructed identities to subject citizens.  Similar to the genealogist, Faulkner classifies his data.  He is obligated to distinguish between race and class, to make social classification a vital element to his narratives.  But “[in] accepting markings such as skin color, sexual difference, dress, and dialect as significant indices of social value, the trusting reader initially must repeat and reinforce the figures whereby blacks, poor whites, and women have been classified, separated, and dominated” (Snead 155).  In other words, the stereotypes that permeate his novels reinforce the racist perspectives of southerners.

Figure 6: Essay Excerpt on Quentin and Shreve, Absalom, Absalom!


The first highlighted (bolded) statement represents an unclear statement. Within the statement, the student packs too much into one sentence without fully exploring its qualities. How do you reconcile Sutpen’s actions? In addition, to whom does “his” refer?

Revision Consideration

Develop a simple, straightforward sentence to convey your point. The second bolded sentence is a simple, clear statement that answers questions about a particular topic.

When you have to ask any question or many, then you have lost your reader. If you can’t answer the questions yourself, then you have lost grip on your analysis.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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