1.) The mistress of a castle
2.) The mistress of an elegant or fashionable household

From the French, ch√Ętelaine

The word "chatelaine" is used in Absalom, Absalom! in a description Jason Compson gives to Quentin about a change in Ellen's personality after she becomes Thomas Sutpin's wife. In typical Faulknerian form, the description is extensive and attempts to chronicle Ellen's shift from a conservative, frugal preacher's daughter to a wealthy socialite, "as though she had succeeded at last in evacuating not only the puritan heritage but reality itself...escaped at last into a world of pure illusion in which, safe from any harm, she moved, lived, from attitude to attitude against her background of chatelaine to the largest, wife to the wealthiest, mother of the most fortunate" (54).

Works Cited

"chatelaine." dictionary.com. 21 Nov, 2013. Web.

Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom!: The Corrected Text. New York: Vintage, 1990. Print.