Rosa Coldfield in Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! Rosa Term Paper

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Rosa Coldfield in Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!

Rosa Coldfield stands as the most prominent link between past and present in William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! Indeed, it is Miss Coldfield who is responsible for the inception of Quentin's investigation into the past. She requests that he come to her so that she can tell him some of his family's history before he sets off for college in the North. It is through her voice that both Quentin and the reader first encounter the near-mythic figure of colonel Sutpen. But the careful reader realizes early on that Rosa cannot be trusted as a truly reliable source. Her grim aspect and dark clothes, "the eternal black which she had worn for forty-three years now, whether for sister, father, or nothusband none knew" suggest that all is not right with Miss Coldfield (3). Indeed, as we learn more and more about Miss Coldfield, we begin to realize that she is stuck in the past, obsessed with past events and dead people whose actions left her disturbed, confused, and angry. Indeed, this obsession becomes an almost monstrous anger and thirst for vengeance when focused on Sutpen himself, who Rosa seems to blame for her sister's death, the destruction of her family, and her own wasted life and spinsterdom. But despite this suggestion that Rosa is living in the past, that she is metaphorically one of the living dead, she has profound effects on the present: not only does she interest Quentin on the topic of Sutpen, but she convinces him to go to the Sutpen house, and her decision to send an ambulance for Henry at the novel's close results in the destruction of both Sutpen's estate and his remaining progeny.
In this strange character of Rosa Coldfield, Faulkner demonstrates that the past, no matter how removed or buried in obscurity, still affects the events of the present with astonishing force.

The initial impression we receive of Rosa Coldfield is one of lifelessness, of death. Her black apparently funereal garb suggests the morbidity of this character. And, indeed, while it's stated that no one knows whether the dress is for her "sister, father, or nothusband," it could be for all three, or for herself, and suggests a general strangeness and deathly preoccupation (3). Indeed, even her name suggests a certain morbidity: when we think of a "cold field," we think of winter -- a time typically associated with death. Her name suggests the opposite of springtime fecundity. Indeed, this wintry aspect, which is in opposition to the fertile summer harvest time, also suggests barrenness in Rosa as well. The issue of female fertility runs throughout all of Absalom, Absalom! As we see in Sutpen's later attempts to secure a male heir. This issue particularly affects Rosa as Sutpen later promises his/her hand in….....

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