This book locates Faulkner's historical vision in his use of 'frontier/grotesque,' a cultural rhetoric associated with colonization, which appears in the tension between the regional mythology of plantation and the national mythology of frontier. The book identifies Absalom, Absalom!, The Hamlet, and Go Down, Moses as a 'mythic trilogy,' novels less concerned with portraying the harsh realities of the Depression than the author's vision of a South caught in the tension between the regional mythology of plantation and the national mythology of frontier. Thomas Sutpen is a revolutionary frontiersman seeking to overturn the plantation system; Flem Snopes is a reactionary using the tactics of the pioneer to secure a place atop the system; and Ike McCaslin is a remorseful heir who wants to transcend the system, but actually takes only temporary refuge from mastery by nostalgically play-acting the frontiersman. This book defines of the grotesque as a function of rhetoric, which allows some of the more contentious theories of the grotesque to come together under one critical rubric.
It then shows how colonial power uses the rhetoric of the grotesque to convert the wilderness to settlement along frontiers.