Character Analysis Charles Bon


Charles Bon is the most puzzling figure in the novel in many ways. Even though Henry is the legally recognized son, he is nevertheless a Coldfield by temperament; it is Charles Bon who is the true Sutpen. That is, Charles Bon's willingness to reject his own son in order to be recognized as a son, his firm resolve to enter into a marriage with a woman he apparently did not love, his willingness to enter into this union even though it was an incestuous union, and his willingness to make an instantaneous break with his betrothed if he gains his recognition — all these actions suggest that Charles is the son who inherited the true Sutpen nature. But ironically it is this true Sutpen who cannot be recognized as the son.

A second irony is that Bon's rejection at his father's door is parallel to the episode where Sutpen was turned away from the plantation. Thus, Faulkner centers the story on Sutpen's refusal to recognize his son, Charles.

And Charles' search for a father is made more appealing because he doesn't desire formal recognition, yet he is still ignored. Therefore, Bon feels that if he can't receive willing recognition from his father, then he will force an acknowledgment from his father. Consequently, Bon's insistence and firm determination-qualities which mark him as a Sutpen — to achieve recognition are the main factors causing both his death and the collapse of the design.

Therefore, Charles' true personality is left in a cloud of mystery. Whether he risked his own life in order to save Henry because he loved Henry or because he wanted Henry alive to approve his incestuous marriage with Judith is impossible to determine. But the final impression of Bon is of a man determined to have his way even in the face of almost certain death — a quality that makes him truly a Sutpen.