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Haunted PropertySlavery and the Gothic$
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Sarah Gilbreath Ford

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496829696

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2021

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496829696.001.0001

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Specters on Staircases in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, and Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon

Specters on Staircases in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, and Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon

Chapter:
(p.100) Chapter Three Specters on Staircases in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, and Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
Source:
Haunted Property
Author(s):

Sarah Gilbreath Ford

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496829696.003.0004

This chapter examines parallel scenes in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! (1936), Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding (1946), and Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon (1977), where a character rushes into a haunted house seeking to climb the stairs only to be thwarted by a seemingly supernatural African American woman. These scenes signify the women’s contradictory roles as powerless property and powerful specters. Treated as property, the women do not just haunt the houses, they haunt as houses; they are conflated with the legal property of white families, even after the end of slavery. The women’s status as housekeepers, however, allows them a “keeping,” or possession of property, that provides them the power as specters to block the outsiders, who want to transgress the boundary of time to travel back into the past. Legal possession established by property rights confronts spectral possession signified by haunting.

Keywords:   William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom, Eudora Welty, Delta Wedding, Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon, specter

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