In a specific scene of Requiem for a Nun by William Faulkner, Temple Drake states that

Temple Drake is dead.

In response, Gavin, Nancy's lawyer, responds:

The past is never dead. It's not even past.

What does this famous quote mean in this context?

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    Looks like a fine question to me. Welcome! (You might want to add some context around this quote though, e.g. mention exactly where he says it.)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 19:45
  • Any chance we could get a page or chapter number for that quote?
    – user111
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 20:51
  • @Hamlet Oh thou the lover of the proof, let me tell you this that what's important is the lesson and the words but not the elements and the figures (page no: of the book where these exact words appeared). PS: This is the other way around to admit the fact that the book is not with me right now and so I can't tell you the page number nor can I take a snap shot of it to show along with my question. Hope that's okay for you now :)
    – Harini
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 20:20
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    I just read a disquisition in Joseph Blotner's Faulkner A Biography. You might be interested in checking this. Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


I've never read the book, but I always assumed it meant something to the effect of "What happened to us in our past isn't gone and forgotten. It affects us all the time. It's with us in every moment."

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    writerlyhaphazardry.net/?p=1636. Do take a look at this @Lauren . This statement was not a response to a declaration that a person is dead.(ibid) But as you've told , yes Temple(the lead character in RFN) carries the guilt of her past through out her life and it's embedded in whatever things she does. Thanks for your answer. Simple and lucid :) I was trying to meta physically extrapolate it :P and that's how(why) I posted it here.
    – Harini
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 13:03
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    @user129402 excellent; thank you. I'll remove that line from my answer. Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 13:23
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    If Lauren's answer helped you, @user129402, consider marking it as accepted. This doesn't stop people from posting more answers, but it does indicate that you found what you're looking for. (And both of you get some extra points :-))
    – Shokhet
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 15:02
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    @user129402 Okay.
    – Shokhet
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 15:12
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    @user129402 thanks! sorry I don't have more background or context, as I have never read the work in question. And my preferred pronouns are she/her. :) Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 23:43

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