The Sound and the Fury
The Main Character of the Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury is a unique novel in that it exhibits a inside view of multiple characters that all form a separate opinion over one centralized persons. These chapters and perspectives allow the audience to make their own judgement over Caddy Compson, a young woman who seems to have every characters attention even Jason’s throughout each chapters timelines. Caddy’s three brothers each have their own chapter which display similar and vastly different ideas about Caddy. The difference of views comes from each brothers different intelligence levels and personalities. This absence of Caddy’s own section impels the reader to form their own opinion of Caddy. Plentiful times throughout each chapter the memories or ‘reflections’ offer a deeper look into Caddy as well as the brother who is reflecting. All three brothers seemed to be agitated in a way by just the memory of Caddy and this is a majority of the novel’s story line. Though overall Faulkner tips towards displaying a Caddy that the reader can get behind as a ‘’good’’ character. Faulkner leaves out a section in The Sound and the Fury for Caddy so that the reader can form their own opinion on the books central character.
In Benjy’s section from the start it can be observed easily how Caddy is seen as a motherly and caring sister to him. Benjy is overlooked, not given attention he needs, and sometimes mistreated in this family. Though Caddy tries to help Benjy, watch over him, and try to comprehend his mental state. The reader can see multiple examples within the first twenty pages of the novel of Caddy’s understanding to what Benjy is thinking, “‘Hush now.’ she said. ‘I’m not going to run away.’” (Faulkner 19). Caddy’s motherly figure shows as well in many small but impactful ways to Benjy and his memories like when she warns him to keep his hands warm, “ Keep your hands in your pockets, Caddy said. Or they’ll get froze. You don’t want your hands froze on Christmas, do you.” (Faulkner 4-5). Caddy can be seen as a very likable and good person right off the bat in Faulkner’s complex novel. Painting an image of an innocent, loving, and caring Caddy is what is set up for the readers image before going into her tragic young adult life narrated in Quentin and Jason’s chapters.
On to Quentin’s side of the story, the reader is confronted by the ‘dark’ side to Caddy and her relationship with boys and her brother. This section also takes a liking to Benjy’s in that they share a similar obsession for Caddy though a intelligent version if Benjy had mental capacity to explain his emotions. Quentin’s chapter starts off at Harvard and him having flashbacks about confessing to his father that it was him not Dalton Ames who took Caddy’s virginity, along with other memories regarding Caddy. It is here where the reader starts to learn about Dalton Ames and Quentin’s madness over seeing Caddy’s innocence slip away. Quentin reflects on Dalton Ames and how Caddy would never bring boys home, “ Why won’t you bring him to the house, Caddy? Why must you do like nigger women do in the pasture the ditches the dark woods hot hidden furious in the dark woods.’’ (Faulkner 92) Quentin is very old fashioned and tries so hard to be chivalrous this leads him to portray Caddy as a glorified whore for her having these promiscuous desires without being married. He also is so tormented by the idea of Caddy having sex with anyone he tells the reader how he confesses to his father, “ I have committed incest I said Father it was I it was not Dalton Ames” (Faulkner 79). Throughout all of this chapter the torment that Quentin is going through fantisizing over Caddy’s sexaulity starts to build up increasingly leading to his suicide. The reader at this point can now see how big of a focus Caddy is at this point. She starts out as just a caring sister to her mentally impaired brother, to a crazed obsession and idea of what could be to Quentin.
In the third and last chapter of the brother narratives Jason states his tone of how he feels about not just Miss Quentin who he’s talking about but as well as Caddy, “ Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say.” (Faulkner 180). Jason constantly caps on why Quentin is one the reasons for why the Compsons look bad, but also talks down on Caddy. In this chapter the reader starts to see the effects of Caddy’s youth and carelessness with promiscuity. The indirect talk towards Caddy is also negative during this entire chapter by Mothers conversations that Jason hears, “looking at Quentin. ‘ You will never know the suffering you’ve caused.’ ” ( Faulkner 199). Jason picks up on this and is now used to associating the families problems back to Caddy having a baby. This belief makes Jason feel like he’s mother’s favorite and that the way he acts is permissible. Caddy is also depicted as a source of money for Jason as he revealed to mother how he would steal off checks from her, along with showing a glimpse of Quentin to Caddy for one-hundred dollars. Jason feels Caddy is the source of not only his problems but the family’s problems as well.
Throughout the Novel Caddy is can be recognized as the leading role. The reader sees every side to Caddy but her own, which presses the question of how to truly view this character in a moral sense. Caddy can be viewed as caring and loving from the side of Benjy who can only explain what Caddy is from a standpoint of what she is for him. Quentin familiarizes Caddy similar to Benjy except he kills himself over the torment she has created in his life over the fact that she is the ‘family whore’, which he can’t live with. Finally Jason shows the reader why Caddy is nothing but a bitch that has ruined his life and his family’s reputation. All of these interpretations of Caddy Compson can be true, leaving the reader to only speculate onto what about Caddy is true. Faulkner intentionally wrote The Sound and the Fury like this because he believed that all the other characters were below her and she didn’t need an explanation to what was going on in her head. The reader is supposed to form their own opinion on Caddy leading them to think that instead of her being a character that was everything wrong, that she is in fact everything that is right and has wholesome intentions.
- The Varying Perspectives of Caddy Compson. GradesFixer, 17 Apr. 2018, https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-varying-perspectives-of-caddy-compson/. Accessed 18 February 2019.
- Watson, Leona. Candace ‘Caddy’ Compson. Just Great DataBase. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2019.
- Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. Vintage International, 1990.
- McDonald, Melissa. A Character Description of Caddy in The Sound and the Fury. What Students Learn From Dissecting a Cow’s Eye | Education – Seattle PI. N.p., 21 Nov. 2017. Web. 19 Feb. 2019.
Hopelessness and Despair: the Sad Reality of Quentin Compson and Owen Savage
William Faulkner, the author of The Sound and the Fury, wrote about a man with the name of Quentin Compson, and in the 21st century, Owen Savage another fictional character seen in episode 16 of Criminal Minds; These two have been tortured by their family’s unrealistic expectations as they were growing up, and as adults, were psychologically affected. Unfortunately, Quentin chose to take his own life, and Owen was sent to jail. In the following we will hear a brief summary of the plot in The Sound and the Fury, as well as in the Criminal Minds episode, Elephant’s Mind. We will look at how abuse, neglect, and toxic masculinity can negatively affect these individuals as they grow older. Sadly, this is still a big problem in the world today, especially in the south; this is why my views have not changed after analyzing both plots.
In the novel, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, there is a character by the name of Quentin Compson. Growing up, he had a mother who never loved any of her children, and did not show any sort of affection. She would often say that her children were a punishment for her sins. His father was an alcoholic (124 ). Quentin was smart, and when he grew up he attended Harvard University. At one point his sister, Candace (who also goes by Caddy) reminded him that he must finish school otherwise Benji’s pasture was sold for no reason (154 ). The book describes a special love that Quentin had for his sister, and told us how protective he was of her as well as the jealousy that he felt. The first time Caddy kissed a boy, Quentin got extremely upset and slapped her. After this he tried to make Caddy jealous (Butery 214). Dalton Herbert, Caddy’s soon to be husband does not realize that she was talking about her brother because she always talked as if he was her husband (108 ). Quentin felt humiliated, betrayed and hurt when Caddy picked Dalton over him (126 ). So he ends up threatening Dalton, telling him that he must leave by sunset or he will kill him (198 ), but this was not intimidating to him and when they started to fight, as he was easily able to overpower Quentin. Dalton challenged his manhood by handing him a gun, giving Quentin a chance to shoot him, but he is so afraid that he ends up fainting (199 ). Quentin also gets into a fight with T.P. at Caddy’s wedding and with Gerald Bland. He was starting to withdraw from his environment, and the depression was taking over him. Often he would imagine his own body drifting down the Charles River (Butery 223). Unfortunately, he chooses taking his own life by jumping off the bridge into the river.
Quentin Compson was not the only fictional character who was misunderstood, in season three, episode 16 of Criminal Minds, there was a teenage boy named Owen Savage who grew up in West Bune, Texas. His mother died in a drunk driving accident when he was young (00:10:10-00:10:25), this left him with severe abandonment issues when his father started to abuse him (00:31:50-00:31:52). His father was a U.S. Marine who was forced to return early after Owen’s mother died, he was left to raise him alone (00:10:24-00:10:42). At the beginning of the episode, we see that his father had a gun safe inside of the house, and Owen figured out the keycode and was able to retrieve all of the guns (00:11:10-00:11:45). Growing up, his father did not understand his son had difficulties when learning, he just assumed that his child was stupid and he had no problem telling him that. We find out that Owen was actually brilliant and extremely tech savvy, it was just that he just was not good at reading (00:17:38-00:17:56). He was in love with a girl named Jordan (00:19:37-00:19:35), who was also abused by her father (00:19:21-00:19:35). Owen killed their fathers in order to try to protect himself and Jordan. In her first year of high school, she was taken advantage of by a senior (00:20:02-00:20:40), and Owen ended up killing him for hurting her (00:14:05-00:14:12). He tried to join the wrestling team at school to get his father’s approval, but the people on the team told Owen that he had to masturbate in front of them as an initiation process for joining the team and he was unaware that they were filming him. They posted the video to the school’s social networking site and they were never punished for their actions (00:20:45-00:21:52). In the episode, Owen kills three boys for humiliating him (00:23:13-00:23:31). Owen was taking the lives of the people who had wronged him and Jordan (00:24:28-00:24:33). He made sure that he found a place where both of them could stay in while he was hiding from the police (00:16:35-00:16:43). Owen made sure that Jordan was happy and fed, and she had no idea that he had killed these people (00:32:15-00:33:00). The FBI was able to contact Jordan with the help of her only friend. They sent her a message on the PDA that Owen had got her after her father had taken her phone away (00:32:15-00:34:00). She snuck out of the ranch, and went straight to the police station, leaving behind the necklace that Owen had given to her. It was originally his mothers (00:34:14-00:36:08). Even though Jordan told the FBI where they were, Owen had already left (00:36:10-00:36:41). The song “Hurt” by Johnny Cash started playing in the background: “What have I become? My sweetest friend. Everyone I love goes away, in the end. And you can have it all, my empire of dirt. I will let you down, I will make you hurt. If I could start again, a million miles away; I would keep myself, I would find a way.” Spencer Reid, one of the main characters on the show, knew that he was on his way back to the station to give Jordan back the necklace, and not on his way to his mother’s grave (00:36:46-00:37:50). Spencer had only figured this out because he could relate to Owen on some level as he was also bullied as a child (00:29:57-00:31:05). Even though Owen wanted to die, Spencer made sure that his team did not hurt him, and then gave him the opportunity to say goodbye and give Jordan the necklace before they took him away to jail (00:38:55-00:42:00).
Quentin and Owen have some similarities, both feel immense pressure from their family act differently then who they are. Both individuals grew up being abused and always told that they were never good enough, which in turn set them up for mental health issues as adults. Many studies have connected childhood abuse to various psychological problems that can be experienced later in life, one example being: depression (Springer 864). It seems as though Quentin and Owen suffered with severe depression, both displaying the following symptoms: feelings of emptiness or hopelessness, anger, irritability, aggression, thoughts of suicide or attempted suicide, inability to keep up with life’s responsibilities, withdrawing and isolating, and general loss of interest with what they used to enjoy (Men and Depression). Depression can also be connected to the pressure to conform to a more masculine lifestyle, which in turn, can cause the individual to feel a lack of connectedness and control (Oliffe 466). Even in today’s society we see families in the south that do not accept their own child for who they are and will mentally and emotionally abuse them to conform them into what they want them to be. There have been many who have taken their own life because they can not handle the pressure anymore. Due to the lack of unconditional love for individuals who are different, I believe that The Sound and the Fury confirms my view on the south. It seems as though both fathers rarely validated their sons, and through their actions and words they repeatedly told them that their feelings did not matter and that they should be pushed down and ignored. Quentin’s father simply tells his son to get over it after learning about his son and daughter’s relationship. Even though Owen’s father was a cop, he did not help his son get justice after the wrestling team posted a video of him mastrubating as an annitiation, which says that he does not care about validating his son’s feelings. The non-importance put on feelings is key in toxic masculinity, and after comparing both the book, and the show, my opinions on the south still stand.
In conclusion, both Quentin Compson (The Sound and the Fury) and Owen Savage (Criminal Minds, season 3, episode 6) were given unrealistic expectations to live up to as they were growing up, which in turn, caused them extreme psychological issues. The abuse, neglect and toxic masculinity in their families lead to an inner pain that they felt would not go away, and in the end, Quentin chose to take his own life, and Owen was taken away to jail for his crimes. The sad truth is that these issues are still a big problem in today’s world, and they are not just fiction. It is my hope that the human race will be more careful, and try to reduce any actions that may severely affect an individual psychologically to the point they feel alone, hopeless and as if they want to die. Until, this happens, my view of the south, and the way they treat their children will not change. In the words of John Steinbeck: “A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker than a germ” (Steinbeck 48).
- Butery, Karen A. From Conflict to Suicide: The Inner Turmoil of Quentin Compson. The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, vol. 49, no. 3, 1989, pp. 211-224.
- Elephant’s Memory. Criminal Minds, season 3, episode 16, CBS Television Studios, 16 Apr. 2008
- Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury: The Corrected Text. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.
- Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 1929.
- Johnny Cash. Hurt. American IV: The Man Comes Around, Universal Records, 2002.
- Men and Depression. National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/men-and-depression/index.shtml.
- Oliffe, John L., et al. Masculinities and College Men’s Depression: Recursive Relationships. Health Sociology Review, vol. 19, no. 4, 2010, pp. 465-477.
- Springer, Kristen W., et al. The Long-Term Health Outcomes of Childhood Abuse: An Overview and a Call to Action. Journal of General Internal Medicine, vol. 18, no. 10, 2003, pp. 864-870.
- Steinbeck, John. Travels with Charley: In Search of America. New York, Penguin Books, 1980
Compsons’ Endless Struggle in the Sound and the Fury
The struggle to escape the pervasiveness of a higher power, be it emotional, physical or even metaphysical, is perhaps best captured in The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. In his novel, chronicling the fall of the once proud southern Compson family, the reader is constantly reminded through different points of view and the complicated character interactions that the books characters are constantly being haunted by forces they believe they can’t control. Almost all of them, however, are most cursed by their inability to free themselves from the past and the values they believe must be held. The “power” holding these characters back from inner peace is not in actuality a physical one, but instead the moral and emotional judgement of others. In the novel, Faulkner uses these character relationships and the recurring motif of time in order to demonstrate how the men of the Compson family struggle and ultimately fail to free themselves from the power of judgement from a society that has left them behind.
Since the book is organized in an unorthodox manner, largely through constant shifts through time and inherent bias due to the mental and emotional limitations of the numerous narrators, the reader is more likely to judge an event for its relationship with the narrator’s priorities over their actual effects within the real world. One of the most profound examples of this narrative technique and bias is in the second narrator of the book, Quentin. The second chapter of the book details the thoughts and events that occured for Quentin on the day of his suicide. Making his chapter unique is how Quentin’s narrative experiences shifts in time as a result of emotional triggers, rather than physical ones characteristic of Benjy or the directness of later chapters. This narrative device by Faulkner, to write in stream of consciousness-style, compounded with Quentin’s emotional vulnerability give us insight into Quentin’s outdated values and beliefs. We see through Quentin’s perceptions of people such as Deacon, a black man who Quentin struggles to reconcile as more than an icon of the south, and his relationship with his father, who he tries and fails to find reassurance of his beliefs, that Quentin feels trapped by his belief in traditional Southern values. His impotence to actually uphold these values, physically shown through is failure to fight Caddy’s lover Dalton Ames and his attempt at helping a lost girl ending poorly, are the result of modern society and the more dominant Northern values being indifferent if not hostile of these beliefs. Repeated failures by Quentin to find substance in these outdated morals in his friends, enemies, society, and most crushingly his father, who dismisses morals entirely, are reflective of the family as a whole struggling to free themselves from this shift in social power. For Quentin, this creates his feelings of helplessness and ultimately fuels his desire to go to hell. We are further able to understand the feelings of lost power and an inability to escape through every character’s relationship with time.
Time and timekeeping are motifs that are repeated consistently throughout the book. Whether it is Benjy’s inability to move with time or Jason’s inability to get with the times, few characters and none of the Compsons can actually escape the effects of time. Nearly all of them seek comfort in the past, such as in Benjy’s strong emotional response when remembering the only family member who loved him, Caddy. Every male Compson, however, is unable to find these past comforts in the present. An example of time as a motif serving a narrative function is in the character of Jason. The sole earner of the family, and narrating in at this point an unusually straightforward manner, Jason’s chapter is indicative of his desire for wealth. This is not only a character trait that we gain from this technique by Faulkner, but also insight into how the shift in values from status through family to status through wealth has affected the Compsons. Now forced to accept more modern priorities given the change in social currency, the Compsons are left furious, unable to find comfort in their former glory in the past or justify their feelings of superiority though race alone as seen by Jason’s constant racism and misanthropy. Jason’s single-mindedness is seen blatantly through how he constantly steals funds from Caddy’s child Miss Quentin. An exchange between the two, where Jason complains about supporting Quentin is humorously countered with Quentin retorting, “”Mother buys my books.” she says. “There’s not a cent of your money on me. I’d starve first.”” (187). Besides the clear selfishness in Jason’s character, Faulkner highlighting the contrast in level of usage between Jason and Quentin give the reader even more insight into the males of the Compson family. Jason’s extremely simple vernacular is contrasted with Quentin’s wittiness. We see a member of the younger generation, now growing up educated with modernized values, leaving behind the intellectually and emotionally inferior Jason and his generation. Rather than making the blanket statement that the past is dying, however, it can instead be inferred that this is commentary on how Jason cannot accept the change in power from the old to the new. His interactions with Quentin highlight how Jason has only accepted the pursuit of wealth as a lifestyle change in the present, if only for the power. Otherwise, Jason is left wallowing in his own self pity and anger, as the present moves on without him. This struggle for power between generations and time reflects the theme of the novel as a whole, the fall of the american south.
Overall, Faulkner uses a variety of narrative techniques such as the access to character biases through their perceptions of others and the prevalence of time as a central theme to show the rise of the north and modern times forcing the Compsons to failure and endless struggle, trapped by the constraints of their pride.
The Decay of the Compsons in William Faulkner’s the Sound and the Fury
The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner : Theme Analysis
In The sound and the fury, William Faulkner’s main theme is about the decay of the Compson family, which also parallels the decay of the South in America. The Compson family is composed of Jason Compson III, the alcoholic father, Benjamin(Benjy), the retarded boy, Quentin, the suicidal, Caddy, the calm and somewhat central character of the book , and Jason, the rude and racist. Faulkner gives each one of them a quality that emphasizes how much their family has declined, morally, physically, and intellectually.
Benjamin(Benjy) Compson is the narrator of the first chapter of the book. He is a mute guy who can neither take care of himself nor express himself, only by crying. That’s why he’s always been taken care of either by Caddy, or Luster. His inability to communicate reflects one the values lost by the Compson family, genuine and honest communication. Whenever he is presented with something he hates, he starts crying, whether it’s when Caddy was all wet and muddy or when he smelled the perfume on her. As a family, the Compsons do not have any form of genuine communication among each other, just like Benjy cannot communicate with others, and this is the reason why all their kids went into their own cheap way. Quentin ended up committing suicide because he couldn’t make up his mind, judging that his father’s advice was useless.
Another way Faulkner highlights the decline of the Compson family is by drawing our attention to the somewhat paranoiac attachment to traditional values of Quentin Compson. Quentin strongly believes in deep traditional Southern values such as honor, honesty, and purity, which have clearly lost their meaning in the Compson household. Quentin however still holds on to these values and is unable to bear the pain of his family weakening in such matters. His relationship with Caddy is important because when she loses her virginity, Quentin feels betrayed that her own sister has broken an essential value. His father as well seem to have forgotten the meaning of those values. By giving Quentin a watch, he hoped that he “wouldn’t remember time, but that [he] might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all [his] breath trying to conquer it”(). Even though he was the one to inculcate those values into him, he now wants him to forget about them. This recession in values from both her father and beloved sister, frustrates him to the point of punching his friends(), and ultimately committing suicide.
All characters display a sense of kindness, and longing for the lost values of the past, except for one, Jason IV Compson. He is a cruel man who is self-absorbed and only thinks of personal wealth. He is a racist who doesn’t hesitate to crudely address their black servants. Of all the characters, he is the one who best show just how deep the Compson family has sunk.
The Sound and the Fury and as I Lay Dying – Two Works by William Faulkner
The author William Faulkner applies the notion of existential absurdity, authenticity and closeness to God as the major concepts. He argues that the existential epitome of authenticity is exhibited in the character Darl from the narrative As I lay Dying. In the novel As I lay Dying, Faulkner displays man’s endurance in an absurd, humiliating, ambiguous world; however man is capable of gallantry in a Sisyphean sense as exemplified by the character Cash. During his speech he says, “our misfortune today is a universal and general fear so long unrelenting by now that we can never cope with it, there are no longer spirit problems.” Though Faulkner concludes this famous speech in an erratic positive note, claiming man is immortal due to his desire to endure, he identifies the current state of humanity as spiritually debauched in light of the possibility of instant annihilation.
The Sound and the Fury:
The title of the novel is extracted from a monologue vocalized by Shakespeare’s Macbeth, who has gained the thrown Scotland via murder and has controlled it through the cruelest violence and tyranny. In comparing the two stories by William Faulkner, I will address the question as to why William Faulkner picked a phrase from the passage for the Sound and the Fury title, the applicability of the passage to the novel and whether the novel is despairing and pessimistic as the speech itself (Roberts and Cliffs Notes).
In the novel Sound and the Fury, Faulkner uses a stream of consciousness method, which was used by James Joyce’s Ulysses in experimental works. The author further complicates the issue for readers by clambering, as it were, the referred time frames by the recounting consciousness of the beginning section of the novel.
All of the novel’s vital events are recorded in Benjy’s section and after that summarized expanded upon by the storytellers. For Benjy is in numerous ways the fundamental and most crucial narrating consciousness. Faulkner is unable to distinguish between what will be tomorrow and what was last year. He doesn’t seem to be aware whether he saw it or dreamed of it.
Each of the novel’s four sections contains a date as opposed to chapter number. The three of the narratives occurs on three consecutive days in April of 1928, though they are not presented in a consecutive sequence (Williamson). The second one out of the four, Quentin’s story is dated June 2, 1910 – the day he killed himself towards the final of his first year at Harvard. With every section, the story becomes more articulate, and we conclude in a fairly straight forward and customary third-person voice.
As I Lay Dying:
Faulkner drafted As I Lay Dying in six weeks while he was working the night shift at a power. Faulkner conscripted A I Lay Dying in six-week at the time he was working the night at a power firm. He clearly thrived in what he set out as undertake. This novel is a work in which the talent for Faulkner is fully within his control, and the outcome is one of the twentieth century most beloved and finest novel.
As I Lay Dying, unlike the Sound and the Furry contains a clearly defined plot line: it is the story of a journey, and regardless of the many delays in that journey, nothing hinders the straight frontward movement of the plot towards its endpoint. Nevertheless, the manner in which the story is presented exemplifies an experiment in story technique that is dazzlingly achieved. When the author completely eliminates himself totally as an author-narrator figure, he divides the narrative into fifty-nine distinct monologs, each though or spoken by one of the fifteen characters (Oatman and Faulkner). We can observe that there is no description, no exposition of action or character outside of the way the characters view themselves, one another, and the proceedings in which they take part.
Similar to The Sound and the Furry, As I Lay, Dying revolves around a single family. It is always comic, often the grotesque narrative of their single-minded attempt to carry out their father’s promise to his failing wife.
Comparing the two Novels:
In both novels, the family is essential to structure, meaning and plot. It’s the cause of identity and grief and also the locus of all persons psychic struggles. Faulkner’s characters are eternally within their family values and roles.
Faulkner attempts to make himself vanish in these works. As an alternative to using customary third-person relator, that majority of readers associate with the author, he leads a chorus of voices that complement, intertwine and contradict one another (Luce). As readers, we must depend on what we acquire from the characters themselves as to place, time, plot and matters of effects and cause.
All of the novels questions are our assumptions about time as regular, sequential, linear and predictable. Faulkner is involved in the effects and cause of extreme psychological pressures as we observe in Quentin and Benjy Compson and many other characters used in these novels.
Faulkner has often been accused of an exceptionally misogynistic women representation. Faulkner’s inability to attain moral depth in his painting of young women clearly indicates the main falling as a novelist.
Comparison between Jean Toomer’s Cane and Karintha
Cane is an unconventional book, unclassified and experimental in its poem combination and what are precisely prose pieces that are established as short narratives but rarely mere sketches, occasionally prose poems lacking plot, encompassing just a few pages and carrying the sense of an individual’s spirit impressionistically. Some of these pieces approach the drama, with a kind of conversation printed dialogue, setting defined precisely as for the stage designer, and actions offered in the current tense.
Whether verse, drama or prose all are infused with a poet sensibility: detailed depiction of the details of use of all of the senses gaudily, rhythmic quality devoid of slavish observance to metrics, word sensitivity phrasing theme variation, a fine sound ear, and an elegant sense of the organic structure (Fabre and Feith). Few books whether verse or prose contains less of prosaic compared to this one, which puts the reader in an almost persistent state of exaltation and intensity, drawing them in with sound, language, rhythm and form.
To establish a sense of closeness and vitality to the natural world and the land, Toomer make use of an immense array of references to nature i.e. cane fields, pines, sky at the dusk, red soil as imageries themselves as metaphors or smiles in relation to his character, or as a recurrent leitmotif in operatic progress of his drawings.
In Karintha, just like other book pieces, Toomer begins with an, a songlike abstain of 4 lines that reappear throughout the outline as a uniting device. The very first of four passage of varying length then presents Karintha as an infant, wrapping her up in the beginning sentence, which happens to be poetically accretive as opposed to prosaically structured; the last adjective cluster repeats words from epigraph’s desist. Two lines in corresponding construction follow, addressing the actions young men and old men undertakes with her, which are followed by 2 lines in reply to these, recounting their individual feelings concerning her (Jones). The end sentence concludes the paragraph and “this attention of the male,” with a symbolic elucidation of it & note of forbidding.
The third passage creates varied references to issue & phrasing of the previous paragraph. Repetition of actual phrases and sentences and the sentences structure induces the poetry sense, as does second half of the section, which through indirection, discloses Karina’s murder of her baby.
William Faulkner’s the Sound and the Fury: Literary Analysis
Summer Reading Essay Revision
In his defining novel The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner explores the role of racial superiority, chivalry, and purity in the South during the 1920s. Following the dramatic upheaval of the Civil War, citizens attempted to define their identity by clinging tenaciously to Old South values. Specifically, Faulkner extensively uses symbols to explore how the social issue of female purity represents a fixation on archaic values that invariably resists change.
Primarily, Faulkner symbolizes this purity as water. Throughout the novel, water serves paradoxically as both a cleansing and sinful agent. As a young child, Caddy climbs a tree and the three brothers notice her muddied drawers. Faulkner challenges the traditional symbolism of water as cleansing, which foreshadows that Quentin’s and Jason’s ideals of purity will likewise be seriously challenged by Caddy’s actions. Unable to stop her ascent into the tree, the situation foreshadows their impotence at influencing her actions later in life. In addition, Benjy cries out when he smells Caddy’s perfume and recognizes her transition into adulthood; she rushes to wash it off, yet in the end her maturation is inevitable. Similarly, after she loses her virginity to Dalton Ames, she bathes in the river near the Compson’s home in an attempt to purify herself. Quentin finds her there and threatens to commit a double suicide, but can not go through with the act. Again, water is used to wash away the sin and guilt of lost values, yet it ultimately fails. Quentin and Caddy’s conversation, fragmented and desperate, parallels the fragmentation of the contemporary South. The water’s failure to alleviate the tensions of the Compson family foreshadows the failure of the South to adapt to shifting norms.
Water symbolizes purity for Quentin as well, who commits suicide by drowning himself. His shadow in the water haunts him, and his corporeal body and shadow only merge at the moment of his death. He drowns himself as a twisted rendition of baptism, that purifies the participant. After Benjy discovers Caddy kissing a boy named Charles, she washes her mouth out with soap. Notably, Quentin drowns himself in the Charles River. The first washing, by Caddy, superficially cleanses the external; Quentin’s “washing” destroys it. His absolute fixation on Old South values prevents him from considering any other option, as he believes immersing himself in the river is the only way to gain back the purity that Caddy lost. His antiquated views are incompatible with the emerging South and his death parallels the eventual death of the old that must occur for the new to develop.
Throughout the novel, Faulkner appropriates water to sexual purity. The contemporary social issue of purity is a double-edged sword that leads to Caddy’s fall from respected society. The Compson’s fragmentation caused by the conflict between traditions and redemption represents the Southern society’s inflexibility as a whole. Specifically, Quentin’s actions are stark reminders of the crumbling of Southern values and culture and the family’s complete incapacity to accept change in any form. The resistance that comes from clinging so desperately to outdated notions of femininity and honor leads only on a path to destruction. In an ironic twist, only Dilsey, the family’s black servant who is alternately belittled and undervalued, is able to accept this shifting landscape and persevere. The Sound and the Fury serves as an ominous warning to the dangers of this stagnation, yet simultaneously it represents the hope that some, like Dilsey, will learn to adapt and endure.
Faulkner’s Tragic Focal Point in The Sound and the Fury
William Faulkner presents the story of Caddy in The Sound and the Fury in a unique and precise way by showing how her family views her. Caddy’s life becomes the central conflict in the lives of the Compsons, and her story, paralleled with the ultimate demise of the family and its members, is portrayed in the four separate narratives of the novel. While Caddy remains voiceless throughout the entirety of Faulkner’s book, it is her absence that singularizes her importance in the novel and her brothers’ obsession with her purity that reveal her character and her influence upon the decline of the Compson family.
Benjy’s section, consisting mainly of childhood flashbacks, reveals Caddy’s initial innocence. Benjy sees his sister as a living mother figure, and he always turns to her for comfort. He associates her with all the love and goodness that he has ever known. Benjy can “smell” Caddy’s purity, which he associates with the clean, pure smell of trees. He becomes very upset when she seems unclean to him. For example, when Benjy catches Caddy and a boy kissing in the swing, he cries and pulls her away. He remembers, “Caddy took the kitchen soap and washed her mouth at the sink, hard. Caddy smelled like trees”(48). Benjy is comforted when he can again smell her purity. In the same way that Benjy depends on Caddy’s purity for comfort, Caddy also finds comfort from her shameful life in the innocence and faithfulness of Benjy. Benjy remembers Caddy once saying, “‘It’s still raining. I hate rain. I hate everything.’ And then her head came into my lap, and she was crying, holding me, and I began to cry”(57).
When Caddy leaves, Benjy has lost his only real source of love and comfort. T.P. tells Benjy, “You can’t do no good looking through the gate. Miss Caddy done gone long ways away . . . You can’t do no good crying . . . She can’t hear you”(51). Benjy’s life becomes sadder after her departure, and he is often upset, thus increasing the burden he is on the family. Benjy’s section is the only section where Caddy is shown in any kind of innocent light, due to the ironic fact that mentally retarded Benjy is the only one who is able to see her goodness.
Faulkner uses Quentin’s obsession with Caddy’s purity, which ultimately leads to his suicide, to further illustrate her central importance. Quentin, like Benjy, needs his sister’s purity for comfort. He becomes very upset when she begins her promiscuous behavior. In his anger he often asks his college roommates, “Did you ever have a sister? Did you? Did you?”(78) Quentin cannot understand why he is losing his sister. He develops a hatred for all of the men that “take” Caddy away from the family and away from himself. Partially out of wanting to protect the “purity” of the ironically shameful Compson name, Quentin develops the notion that he should have Caddy all to himself. He tells his father, “Father, I have committed incest”(79). When looking off the bridge he thinks of Caddy and wishes, “If it could just be a hell beyond that, then you will have only me, then only me”(116)2E Quentin’s need to save Caddy’s purity evolves into an anxious sate of depression that is only intensified by his father’s philosophical advice. Mr. Compson tells Quentin that life is meaningless and that “time is dead, as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels”(85). Mr. Compson, a doomed alcoholic, repeatedly tells Quentin that nothing is important, that virginity (Caddy’s) is “just a word”(116). Quentin, who refuses to accept the fact that his sister’s purity is unimportant, kills himself in a desperate attempt to prove his father’s theory wrong, and to escape the progression of time that is forcing Caddy, and in turn the entire Compson family, into a meaningless end.
Jason blames Caddy and her promiscuousness for the problems of the Compson household and, more importantly to him, his own troubles. Jason’s contempt for Caddy and the shamefulness of the rest of the family cause him to be a very bitter, self-pitying man. He is embarrassed to even be a part of the Compson household. While walking around town he thinks, “there I was, without any hat, looking like I was crazy too”(233). Furthermore, Jason feels Caddy’s promiscuous behavior directly cost him a job. When his mother reminds him that Caddy’s former husband Herbert was going to give Jason a job before he discovered her pregnancy, he coldly replies, “Well he was probably lying too”(221). Jason, a very greedy man, never forgives Caddy for his financial burden and even resorts to stealing the money she sends her daughter, Quentin. When Quentin asks to see the money, he retorts, “Not after the way you’ve acted. You’ve got to learn . . . when I tell you to do something, you’ve got to do it”(215). Jason vengefully tries to control his niece because of his inability to control his sister. Quentin’s Caddy-like behavior only drives him further along an angry downward spiral, coupled with a gambling problem and a prostitute girlfriend, that leads him to reject all goodness he encounters.
In conclusion, Faulkner reveals different parts of Caddy’s story though each of her brother’s own stories and the way her actions affect each member of the declining Compson family. Though each of the narratives, it is apparent that each brother fails to find happiness because he is unable to hold on to his sister, Caddy. This is how Faulkner reveals her importance: through the tragic demise of the family without Caddy. What proves most interesting, however, is that the focal point of the tragedy is the most tragic character of all.
Caddy, despite her efforts, ends up like Shakespeare’s Macbeth’s sad view of man, utterly alone on center stage, viewed by a critical audience, and part of a story with no happy ending.
The Sound and The Fury Essay: Psychological Criticism of Caroline Compson
Southern aristocratic mothers generally did not take care for their children, and instead, they usually had an “African-American woman [care] for (and essentially raise) Southern white children” (Tucker, 35). Caroline Compson is the neurotic and inconsiderate mother of Quentin, Caddy, Jason, and Benjy. Incapable to show any love to her children, Caroline is essentially the reason for the downfall to the Compson family. William Faulkner’s novel ‘The Sound and The Fury’ asserts the problems of Caroline Compson through her children in order to prove that she causes harm to her family due to her manipulative ways. Mothers have a lasting impression on their children, as they are usually the first to connect with the children. Neglecting and manipulating children leave a psychological impact on them and cause problems later in life.
In Benjy’s section, it is easy to pick up on Caroline’s distaste for her youngest son. She is inconsiderate of Benjy’s condition and does not quite understand it. When the family is in the room with the fireplace, Caroline is sitting in a chair and Caddy is trying to give Benjy a cushion to calm down, but he continues to cry. Caroline believes that “he must learn to mind [her]” (64) and tells him to “stop that [crying]” (64), but Benjy just keeps crying which leads to Caroline to begin crying from frustration. Caroline also feels obligated to keep Benjy in Jefferson, Mississippi instead of sending him to the insane asylum in Jackson. She is laying in bed, feigning sickness when Benjy burns his hand and begins to holler. Caroline acts like she cares when she asks “What is it now. Cant [she] even be sick in peace. [Does she] have to get up out of bed to come down to him, with two grown negroes to take care of him.” (59). Caroline has never once in her life lifted as much as pinky for Benjy, but because she feels as if she has been purposely disrupted, she acts like she is the only one capable of handling Benjy. Caroline is sure that “Benjamin [is] punishment enough for any sins [she has] committed [she] thought he was [her] punishment for putting aside [her] pride and marrying a man who held himself above [her]” (103). This thinking causes Caroline to reject Benjy, ultimately treating him like a pest.
Jason and Caroline’s relationship is an odd mother-son relationship. While Caroline wails and complains, Jason simply mocks her throughout the novel. The manipulative mannerism of Caroline really comes out as she tries to make Jason feel bad for her. When Jason is trying to leave for work, Caroline claims that she is “just a trouble and a burden to you” (181). Since Jason is quite immune to his mother’s manipulative ways, he simply mocks her. Despite the fact Caroline possibly knows that Jason is not affected by her self-pitying personality, she still attempts to get attention from him by pretending to be a victim. Caroline also constantly states that Jason is her favorite because “[he] is not a Compson except in name” (196). She is trying to make him feel loved, but in truth, she only cares because he acts more like her family, a Bascomb. Only one person truly cared for Jason is Damuddy. Caroline does not like the fact that “Damuddy spoiled Jason” (63), and even complains that it “took him two years to outgrow it” (63), much too long in her opinion. Caroline may act like she cares for Jason, but she is simply trying to get him to do what she wants by trying to make him feel guilty.
Several factors play into why Caroline might have purposefully neglected her children. The time in this book is post-Civil War and it is known that the Compson family was a higher class, possibly first or second. Caroline was most likely raised by black servants, as she married into a higher class family. It is possible that due to the “patriarchally enforced notion of the mammy provides for a chasm between white mothers and their children, mentally, physically, and emotionally” (Copland). Thus, Caroline is simply filling in the fact that “ middle-upper class white woman was supposed to produce children [and] let the black ‘mammy’ raise and care for the child” (Copland). Dilsey, the black servant, is the one who cares for all the children, raising them since birth alongside her children. Caroline has a “difficulty in white mothering and/or establishing close connections with their children” (Copland), and in a sense, it makes a reasonable amount of sense on why Caroline neglects her children.
The second reason why Caroline is unable to provide her children with love and care is due to being a hypochondriac. Most of the times, throughout the novel, when Caroline is in the scene, she complains of being sick and/or is in bed ‘sick’. When Benjy wants to go outside, Uncle Maury is quick to pick up on the fact that “[Caroline will] worry [herself] sick over him” (5). She agrees with him. Although it is unknown exactly why Caroline acts the way she does, har narcissistic mannerism can be based off of a type of trauma or psychological and emotional event that happened in her life while growing up. Parents who suffer problems in their childhood are more likely to repeat the same behavior seen in their parents.
The psychological reasoning behind Caroline’s bad parenting and harsh personality remains a mystery, it is no mystery that her cruel ways are the true reason for the Compson family downfall. The negligence seen in the novel is the foreshadowing of her children’s lives: Benjy ends up being sent to an insane asylum in Jackson; Quentin kills himself; Caddy has an illegitimate child and disappears; and Jason is a hateful and manipulative man. Caroline not only sets herself up for failure in properly raising her children, she also sets her own children up for failure, whether it be intentional or not.
Copland, Rachelann. “Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury: The Fragmentation of Motherhood.” The Artifice. The Artifice, 8 Feb. 2014. Web. 21 Dec. 2016.Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury: The Corrected Text. New York: Vintage, 1990. Print.Tucker, Susan. Telling Memories among Southern Women: Domestic Workers and Their Employers in the Segregated South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1988. Awesome Stories. Awesome Stories, 01 Aug. 2011. Web. 21 Dec. 2016.
Unprepared Lives Lead to Unforgettable Mistakes
Adolescence is a confusing and vulnerable time in any young woman’s life. Unfortunately, the sexual decisions one makes as an immature youth can set a dreary path for a woman’s future. Unhealthy sexual lives such as these are displayed in Toni Morrison’s “Jazz” and William Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury” through the characters of Dorcas and Caddy. At the time, these women are too young and immature to realize how their decisions will affect the rest of their lives, and their sexual acts quickly lead to their demise. It is important to understand why Dorcas and Caddy would need to become so sexual in their young lives in the first place to understand the choices they made and the consequences that follow. Furthermore, their choices are similar in that they are influenced by their families and the cities. However, the characters are judged differently, in that Dorcas is seen as a victim and, unfairly, Caddy is seen as a sinner.
Dorcas and Caddy both suffer from tarnished families that lead them to make poor choices, eventually ruining their lives and the lives of those around them. Early in Dorcas’ life she loses both parents on the same day, her father to a car accident and her mother to a house fire. This horrific tragedy leaves Dorcas to be raised by her aunt, Alice Manfred, a quiet, fearful woman that “worked hard to privatize her niece,” (67). Alice Manfred was not evil, but she had been through situations that made her fear people, men especially, leaving her to raise her niece under “heated control” so that Dorcas would not be hurt by the pain men could cause her (77). Alice gave Dorcas no freedom at all and treated her as the child she was growing out of. She did not speak to Dorcas about the horrors and pains of the world and how to handle them; instead she kept a tight grip and a watchful eye on her. As a young girl, Dorcas began feeling trapped and lonely. Unequipped with life experiences, when she experienced her first ounce of rejection by two brothers at a high school party, she could not handle it, “So by the time Joe Trace whispered to her through a crack of a closing door her life had become almost unbearable,” and she was easily seduced by the older man (67).
Caddy grew up in a much larger family, with both of her parents, several brothers and sisters, an uncle, and a servant. However, her large family did not result in strong parenting. Mrs. Compson treated her children like they were a burden, describing her thirty three year old retarded son as “a judgment” on her, and Mr. Compson drank himself to death (5). Caddy, being the only daughter of the Compson family, became the mother figure for two of her brothers, in particular, Quentin and Benjy. This put a lot of pressure on Caddy, and as she began to grow into a young woman, the neglect she had received from her parents caught up to her. Caddy started looking to men for the love she had always wanted from her family. Unfortunately, these circumstances led to disappointing consequences for Caddy and other members of her family, which they deemed as unforgivable. Caddy and Dorcas’ childhoods reflect their need to search for love and acceptance outside of their homes, and at this young, vulnerable age, they knew no better than to do this by exploring their sexuality.
Dorcas and Caddy’s affairs were very different, and led to different consequences. Dorcas’ affair began when she was only eighteen years old, with Joe Trace, a much older, married man her aunt had known for years. Being so young, Dorcas was very vulnerable to Joe, and being so closely controlled by her aunt, she needed something in her life she could control. Early into the affair Joe rented a place to be alone with Dorcas and “to tell his new love things he never told his wife,” (36). In each other they felt special, loved, and revived. However, being so young and inexperienced, Dorcas did not understand what she had gotten herself into. Joe was married, and involving oneself in situations like these can have very painful results. Regardless, he often brought her gifts, and she loved the attention, but was incapable of letting her relationship with Joe grow any deeper than that. Dorcas needed the attention and once she got it she was fulfilled, did not need it anymore. Joe, however, needed much more, and following Dorcas’ rejection succumbs to violence, and shoots her.
After being shot, Dorcas tells those around her not to save her, and then bleeds to death. At her funeral, Joe’s wife slashes her face. The community looks upon as a martyr rather than an impure girl, because she died as a result of her actions. Dorcas’ death made her seem like an innocent girl caught up in a seductive, violent situation with an older man, but Caddy does not get the same sympathy. Caddy’s sexual experience did not end her life, but instead complicated it was before.
The consequences of Caddy’s actions affect her family. In “The Sound and the Fury,” Caddy has sex out of wedlock and becomes pregnant. This first mistake costs her family their reputation. Then, trying to hide that her pregnancy was illegitimate, she quickly marries her boyfriend who had promised her brother, Jason, a job in a bank. However, upon finding out about the pregnancy, her husband divorces her, which costs Jason the job. On top of all of this, Quentin, the unstable, older brother that looked to Caddy as a mother, learns of her sin and commits suicide. Finally, after Caddy’s baby is born, she is unable to care for her new daughter on her own, and Jason ends up being her guardian, which creates even more resentment towards Caddy.
The bitterness Caddy’s brother, Jason, holds for her is very apparent when he refers to Caddy’s daughter as, “The bitch that cost me a job, the one chance I ever had to get ahead, that killed my father and is shortening my mother’s life every day and made my name a laughing stock in the town.” Even worse, Caddy’s daughter Miss Quentin, is continually blamed for the family’s problems. Caddy never meant to hurt anyone. She was a scared, young girl, in a situation her parents had not prepared her to prevent or face. Caddy is not given any room to make mistakes in her life, even though her parents are the ones that made the ultimate mistake of not loving, nurturing or teaching her enough to be able to stay out of the kind of trouble she ends up engaging in.
The sexual choices Dorcas and Caddy make are similar in that they result from poor parenting, but are different in their effects. Dorcas is seen as a victim because Joe Trace was much older and killed Dorcas, and because Joe’s wife slashed Dorcas’ lifeless face. Though both Dorcas and Caddy were looking for love, attention, and happiness, Caddy’s case affected the reputations, jobs, and lives of her family members, who took her actions very personally. In “The Sound and the Fury” and “Jazz”, Faulkner and Morrison show how young women lacking support and comfort at home can turn to men to fill the void in their lives. Regardless of how family members or the community responded to these women, they are both innocent in their actions because of the poor conditions in which they were raised. They cannot be blamed for seeking out attention and love when they were not getting it at home in the first place.
“Obverse Reflections” in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury
Born in 1897 in Mississippi, William Faulkner knew black people as servants and laborers, not as equals. Yet, sharing the same space with blacks led him to a deeper understanding of their plight and circumstances. Despite his negative view of black society, in The Sound and the Fury Faulkner reverses the classic allegory of “black = bad” and “white = good.” The blacks represented in the novel are generally more concerned with self-respect and morality where the whites are preoccupied with self-absorption and overwhelming pride. As a result, the representation of the black community in the novel serves as a contrast to the representation of the deteriorating Compson family. As described by Quentin, the black characters are simply “obverse reflections” of white society (86). Likewise, Dilsey, Roskus, and the Deacon are used by Faulkner to accentuate the corrupt and nefarious values of their white counterparts.
Of these characters, Dilsey is especially important. Throughout the novel, Dilsey upholds a moral standard that sharply contrasts the prideful and self-absorbed nature of Caroline Compson. Similarly, she proves to be more of a mother to the Compson children than their own mother. Although she does significantly more work than any other character and remains dedicated to the Compsons despite their lack of appreciation, she is reduced to an “old half-dead nigger,” according to Jason (185).
If Quentin claims blacks are simply “obverse reflections” of their white counterparts, then it can certainly be said the parallels between Mrs. Compson and Dilsey are undeniable (86). While Mrs. Compson is a self-pitying hypochondriac, consumed with pride for her Bascomb family name, Dilsey is a genuinely noble woman who seeks neither the title of a lady or of a servant. Interestingly, although Mrs. Compson strives to preserve her family name and their traditional southern values, it is in fact Dilsey who comes the closest to representing a southern lady despite her skin color. Where Mrs. Compson fails as a matriarch, Dilsey steps in to care for the Compson children as well as her own. For example, moments before Quentin’s suicide, Quentin wails, “if I had just had a mother so I could say Mother Mother” (172). Yet, instead of reflecting on his own mother’s reaction to his death, he instead anticipates “what a sinful waste Dilsey would say.” Even in a moment of severe distress, Quentin returns back to the comfort of Dilsey. Conclusively, it is particularly interesting how Faulkner reverses the traditional expectations of white and black women. Where white southern women were historically expected to care for their families unconditionally and uphold a standard of womanhood, Caroline Compson fails miserably. It is instead the female black servant who chooses to take the Compson children into her loving care. In short, Faulkner uses Dilsey to highlight the corrupt and deteriorating Compson family values. Despite her skin color, by the end of the novel she becomes a symbol for the renewal of traditional southern values and the Compsons’ only hope for familial preservation.
Although the novel only briefly involves Dilsey’s husband, Roskus, the few instances in which we encounter him are sufficient to provide an indication of his entirely different character from Mr. Compson’s. While Mr. Compson lavishes himself with “a decanter of whiskey and a litter of dog-eared Horaces and Livys and Catalluses,” Roskus remains humble, hopeful, and genuine (330). Despite having “the rheumatism too bad to do more than he have to,” Roskus perseveres and, like Dilsey, does the majority of the work for the Compson family (9). But unlike Dilsey, Roskus acknowledges the inevitable disintegration of the once aristocratic Compsons. Repeatedly mentioning “there ain’t no luck in this place,” Roskus is consistently disgusted by the Compson family’s behavior towards the Compson children. Prompted by the birth of their mentally handicapped son, the Compsons become increasingly worried about the preservation of their family name. For instance, the decision to change their son’s name from Maury to Benjy only further proves to Roskus that the family is doomed; once again he repeats that “there ain’t no luck in this place… I seen it at first but when they changed his name I knowed” (29). In Roskus’s mind, God will soon repay the Compsons for their sins. Although Roskus’s preoccupation with bad luck and superstition plague his mind, he ultimately ends up predicting the Compson family decline long before any other character. A loving and god-fearing father, Roskus resents the way both Compson parents are “raising [children] not to know [their] own mammy’s name” (31). Where Mr. Compson is an unsuccessful parent, Roskus is caring and forgiving towards his children. Unfortunately, Mr. Compson is no more fit for the head of a household than his deplorable wife. He is a weak man, entirely oblivious to the needs of his family as a result of his constant drunken stupor, too preoccupied with day-dreaming of the life he did not achieve. Much like his wife, Mr. Compson wallows in self-pity, regarding himself as a victim of his circumstances that he feels he has no control over. Yet, Roskus, a black male servant crippled by genuine physical ailments, continuously works toward and hopes to improve his life. Where Mr. Compson is passive in his suffering, Roskus rises above his situation and works to better himself. Once again, stereotypical male roles of the period have been reversed by Faulkner. Although the white male is traditionally anticipated to live up to patriarchal expectations, in this case it is Roskus who exceeds the capabilities of Mr. Compson.
While the previously mentioned parallels highlight the differences between two characters, the relationship between Quentin and the Deacon accentuates their similarities. Despite the Deacon attempting to project a pseudo self-image, Quentin works to see beyond his projections. Both outsiders within their society, Quentin and the Deacon are attracted to the “otherness” in one another, eventually leading Quentin to come to the conclusion that “a nigger is not a person so much as a form of behavior; a sort of obverse reflection of the white people he lives among” (86). Forced to re-evaluate his traditional southern values while away at Harvard, Quentin gains a new perspective on the Compson family’s deterioration. Beginning with Gerald Bland’s “nigger” stories, Quentin slowly starts to discern the unfavorable similarities between his own family and the Blands, as well as the harsh treatment of their “niggers.” On page 99, Quentin confesses he sees glimpses of Roskus in the Deacon and begins to feel a tinge of guilt for the South’s injustices towards the black community. Despite the Deacon’s obvious lies about attending divinity school, during the conversation Quentin notes the “worn, gentle quality of his nigger hands” and dismisses his lie because “he had been a guide, mentor, and friend to unnumbered crops of innocent and lonely freshmen… he stank no higher in heaven’s nostrils than any other” (98). This is one of the most important moments in The Sound and the Fury because Quentin is able to create a genuine bond with the Deacon despite his skin color. Quentin is finally able to rise above his family’s hateful and racist world views and, in the words of the Deacon, “you and me’s the same folks, come long and short… I draw no petty social lines. A man to me is a man, wherever I find him” (100). In short, Quentin’s relationship with the Deacon summarizes what he has learned (or previously failed to learn): what it means to be “other.” By referring to the Deacon as a “natural psychologist,” Quentin realizes the inherent interdependence between the white and black communities (97). Coming to the conclusion that both he and the Deacon are part of a socially constructed hierarchy, he sympathizes with the Deacon for having to assume various roles based on white people’s desires. All in all, Quentin learns identity is defined by the social expectations of others. His interactions with the Deacon lead to his chief realization that a “nigger” is an abstract, mental construct created and perpetuated by white people. On that note, it is this realization that leads him to conclude his southern heritage, and family traditions, are based on corrupt and despicable values. In this way, the Deacon helps to reveal to the audience (and Quentin) one of the most prominent reasons for the Compson family deterioration.
The Sound and the Fury thus reverses the traditional Southern allegory of “black = bad” and “white = good.” By drawing parallels between the novel’s black and white characters, Faulkner uses Dilsey, Roskus, the Deacon, and other members of the black community to highlight the Compson family’s deep-rooted corruption and inevitable deterioration. In a broader sense, the “obverse reflections” of the Compson and Gibson families shed light on the downfall of the entire Antebellum South, a society that relied on the exploitation of slaves and, more generally, the entire African American population.
Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. Toronto: Random House, 1984. Print