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In September 1909, in Yoknapatawpha County, near Jefferson, Mississippi, Quentin Compson is sent a handwritten note from an old woman named Miss Rosa Coldfield, summoning him to meet her that afternoon, so that he can hear the story of her youth and of the destruction of her family. Quentin, a young man from a prominent Jefferson family--his grandfather was a general in the Civil War--is perplexed as to why she would want to talk to him, and asks his father about it. Mr. Compson explains that Quentin's grandfather had been involved in the story, because he was a friend of a man named Thomas Sutpen, whom Rosa Coldfield considers the demon responsible both for her family's ruination and her own. Quentin goes to see Rosa Coldfield; they sit in the musty room she calls the "office," with the shutters shut so tightly that only thin slits of light shine into the room, and he listens to her story. She explains to him that she has heard he is preparing to attend Harvard--perhaps he will have literary ambitions, and perhaps he would like to write down the story one day. Quentin realizes that she wants the story to be told, so that its hearers will understand how God could have let the South lose the war--because the South was in the hands of men like Thomas Sutpen, who had valor and strength but neither pity nor compassion. Miss Rosa's narrative is told with an intense, smoldering bitterness: she has spent the last four decades burning up in her obsession with the events she now recounts. In 1833, she says, Thomas Sutpen descended upon Jefferson with nothing more than a horse and two pistols and no known past (with a group of savage slaves and a French architect in tow, Sutpen at their forefront like a demon--this is how Quentin pictures the event). Through violent force of will Sutpen had managed to raise up a house the size of a courthouse on an estate he carved out

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