The Strength of One’s Loyalty in Faulkner’s Barn Burning
In William Faulkner’s short story, “Barn Burning,” a possible theme that could be interpreted is how strong loyalty to one’s family can be, no matter the details of the dynamics, but also the moral dilemma of how stressing that loyalty is to uphold. The short story is rich with literary devices and lessons that teach the reader a variety of lessons and themes.
William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, in 1897. He was an American poet and novelist, as well as a railroad financier, politician, soldier, farmer, businessman, and lawyer throughout his life. As a young man, to no surprise, Faulkner enjoyed reading and writing, as well as drawing. However, he never earned his high school diploma, despite being very intelligent. It is supposed that school bored him too much. In 1918 he joined the British Royal Flying Corps and trained as a pilot in the first Royal Canadian Air Force after he moved to New Haven, Connecticut to live with a friend of his: Phil Stone. Faulkner trained on Canadian and British bases, and just before the war was over he finished his service in Toronto, never facing combat, although he was known to stretch truths and embellish stories of dramatic acts and battles. Faulkner was a skilled writer, eventually winning a Nobel Peace Award. He died July 6, 1962 of a heart attack.
Faulkner establishes the theme of justice and loyalty in the first scene where Abner Snopes stands trial in a makeshift court set up in a dry goods store. The trial is largely inept, and the jury can hardly be seen to have punished Snopes by forcing him out of town and goes free without any jail time. In this scene, Sarty’s outward show of loyalty is revealed when he refuses to testify against his father despite being called to the stand in court. However inwardly, Sarty consciously has to correct himself that the plaintiff is not only his father’s enemy, but Sarty’s too. This conscious reminder that he must give himself seems to hint at the moral stress that Sarty faces when he supports his father despite the wrongs he has committed. Upon leaving the courtroom, he attacks a boy half again his size who calls Snopes a barn burner, which also shows how outwardly Sarty shows his support of his father. Throughout the story, a pattern is established. He keeps trying to defend, through his speech and actions, his father to whom he knows he owes his life, and who he shares a bond with. But while the pull of family ties is strong, Sarty is old enough to have started to realize that what his father does is wrong. The struggle goes on throughout the story as Sarty continues outwardly to defend his father while inwardly his doubts grow stronger and stronger. Social inequality also fuels the central conflict in ‘Barn Burning,’ as the root of the problems. Abner Snopes, Sarty’s father, is a poor, itinerant worker with a family to feed, resents anyone of a higher social station. His habit of barn burning seems to come from his frustration and wounded pride. He’s quick to take offense and lashes out strongly once he feels slighted. He acts out with no regard to how Sarty might feel, automatically expecting Sarty’s unquestionable support and loyalty even if it means Sarty, who is a very young boy, must lie to figures of authority.
In the story, Sarty describes his own inner conflict as like being pulled two ways between two teams of horses. On one side is the pull of familial loyalty. On the other side is truth and justice. When the Major de Spain command the fine, Sarty protests to his father that de Spain should have told them how to clean the rug, that the fine is too high, and that they will hide the corn from de Spain. His outbursts in his father’s behalf almost cause more trouble for Snopes when Sarty loudly protests that his father hadn’t burned the rug, when the issue at hand this time is the damaged rug, not a burned barn. When the fine is lowered, he still protests that the major will not get a single bushel. His thoughts, however, and what Faulkner projects will be his future thoughts once he has grown, reveal the ultimately stronger pull of truth and justice. When, after the first trial, his father strikes him and tries to convince him that the men who bring him to trial are only after revenge because they know that ultimately Snopes is in the right, Sarty says nothing, but Faulkner knows that twenty years later, Sarty will tell himself that had he’d said they wanted only truth and justice, his father would have struck him again. The de Spain mansion immediately appears to Sarty as a symbol of hope that perhaps here is a power too great that with which his father cannot even hope to contend. What he cannot yet comprehend, in his childish innocence, is that the greater the wealth, the greater the gulf between the landowner and the landless Snopes, and thus the greater his father’s anger that Snopes keeps tightly in check until it bursts out in the flames of the fires he sets. Sarty still seems to be supporting his father when he runs to get the oil to burn de Spain’s barn. During the short trip, however, he decides that he can neither simply run away nor stand by carelessly as his father burns the barn. He returns with the oil to face his father openly for the first time, and he takes his stand firmly on the side of truth and justice when he runs to warn the major. By the end, he has turned his back both literally and symbolically on his home and on what remains of his family. His turning away from his family, however, is presented as a sign of hope as he walks off into the woods as dawn breaks and morning bird’s calls replace those of the birds of night.
Finding Symbolism in Barn Burning by William Faulkner
The short story, Barn Burning by William Faulkner is full of literary devices. The story is about a family who moves from farm to farm to get by in life and the father burns down barns, hence the name Barn Burning. Which leads the little boy in this short story to decide if he wants to stick with his family or if he wants to break away from his family and do the right thing. Most readers will have to reread this story to pick up most of the symbolism. Throughout the story, Faulkner uses symbolism to show how the theme can be understood and found by the reader.
Faulkner uses a lot of symbolism in this story, but not all of it can be represent the theme or the choice Sarty (the little boy) will have to make. An example symbolism representing the theme could be, “he could see the ranked shelves close-packed with the solid, squat, dynamic shapes of tin cans labels whose labels read, not from the lettering which meant nothing to his mind but from the scarlet devils and the silver curve of fish” (Faulkner 1). Faulkner uses this sentence to show how the boy is hungry and he can not read, which tells the reader some backstory about the boy. More importantly this sentence shows the reader that the descriptions of these cans represents how the boy can choose how he wants to live his life by which can he can pick. If Sarty decides to pick the can that has a devil on it, then he will stay with his family and keep supporting his father when he burns down barns. On the contrary, if Sarty picks the can that has a silver fish (which represents Christianity) he will leave his family and not be associated with the illegal acts which his father does.
Faulkner tells his readers a lot of information that is not easily understood or perceived at first glance. Sarty is forced to be his father’s alibi and help him commit the illegal actions at some point. This adds more pressure on the boy because he knows that his father is doing something wrong and he is forced to be a part of it or to help get his father out of trouble. In the beginning of the story Abner (the father) and his family are in a store and the father is being accused. Faulkner writes, “Get that boy up here” (Faulkner 2). This represents how the boy is always going to have to get his father out of whatever kind of trouble he is in. Later in this scene the justice asks what Sartys’ name is and Sarty responds “Colonel Sartoris Snopes” (Faulkner 2). Abner named his son after a colonel who served in the civil war, who you would think would be honest but Sarty covers up for his dad.
Sarty goes through a lot in this story, but most things he faces can be connected to his choice that he makes by the end of the story. “The only space mentioned is the dark woods toward which he walks at the end of the story” (Zender 4). The point of Faulkner telling us that Sarty is walking through the dark woods is really symbolic of his life changing as stated, “The space, unlocatable on any map, is the dark terrain of the self through which Sarty must journey if he is to become a mature adult” (Zender 4) This just emphasizes how hard this choice will be for Sarty. If he does leave then he will be leaving his blood behind and will not be guaranteed anything in the future, but if he stays then he will continuously be following his father’s footsteps and be associated with all the actions that his dad does.
The final scene of the book gives us an example of symbolism as stated, “The closing image of the constellations may symbolize Sarty’s past and future wanderings” (Billingslea 1). This is after Sarty runs from his family and he is just walking as far as he can. Faulkner says, “The slow constellations wheeled on” (Faulkner 14). Sarty is experiencing a lot of things in this scene but he kind of just slowly moves on and takes things as they come. This is also represented by Faulkner writing, “It would be dawn and then sun-up after a while and he would be hungry. But that would be tomorrow and now he was cold” (Faulkner 14). This shows how Sarty is taking his new life one step at a time and only worrying about what is currently a problem. He knows he will be hungry, but his main priority is trying to get warmed up. This becomes relatable to the reader because once someone makes a decision, one will not know how to do everything.
Abner is a man who does not express how he feels but he does make sure to let those around him know when he is mad or feeling upset. According to Charles Mitchell, “Abners wounded foot is used symbolically to suggest his ruthless but wounded will” (Mitchell 1). This shows how Abner is very persistent and will do whatever it takes to get done what he wants done. Mitchell also says, “Satan is linked with fire and sought to destroy God’s garden, so Abner burns barns” (Mitchell 1). There are many things to say about Abner and one of the most common things he is associated with is the Devil or Satan. One of the ways that Abner is linked to the devil is he loves to burn stuff, specifically barns.
Sarty on the other hand is the complete opposite of his father. Mitchell says, Sarty links his will with his heart or emotions; he tries to achieve freedom within moral limits. Which is very prevalent throughout the story. Everything Sarty does is nothing close to what his dad does or what he thinks. In the beginning of the story when the justice calls Sarty up to speak for his dad, Sartys thinks, “He aims for me to lie and I will have to do hit” (Faulkner 2). Faulkner depicts Sarty as one who is a rule follower and wants to make everybody or as many people happy as possible. Faulkner also writes, “Enemy! Enemy! he thought; for a moment he could not even see” (Faulkner 2). One of the ways he makes his father happy is by covering up his tracks and actions. Sarty later realizes that no matter what he does for his dad, Abner will never be grateful or thank his son for having his back. An example where the reader can find this is where Faulkner says, “You were fixing to tell them. You would have told them” (Faulkner 4). The readers know that Sarty was going to tell the justice anything but the truth, but his father thinks that Sarty would tell and snitch on him. Probably the most “aggressive” thing Sarty does is, “I don’t want to have to hit you” (Faulkner 13). Sarty is trying to go warn the owner of the farm (Mr. De Spain) that his dad is going to burn his barn, but his mom grabs a hold of him and refuses to let go. This can be seen as Sarty starting to break his shell and is leaning towards leaving his family and doing the right thing.
In the final paragraph, Sarty is on his own and is experiencing life by himself. Faulkner says, “It would be dawn and then sun up” (Faulkner 14). This symbolizes Sarty’s old life coming to an end and his new life is just beginning and the journey he is about to endure once the sun rises. Faulkner also writes, “He did not look back” (Faulkner 14). This can be taken as a literal statement and a figurative statement. Sarty finally realizes that he has made the right decision and does not regret his decision at all. This also means that he is going to keep in walking and distance himself from his family.
Barn Burning is a very complicated short story that has a tremendous about of depth and hidden meanings. Sarty starts off as a boy who is very shut in and thinks about everything else but himself. After every action his father does and after all the defending of his father Sarty must do, makes him slowly realize who his dads truly is. Throughout the story Sarty begins to “evolve” and starts to change. It does not happen all at once; one thing normally changes at a time. He first figures out that his dad does not really care what he does, as long as Sarty does not snitch on him. Next, he figures out that he is done with his family and putting up with the illegal activities that his dad does. At the end of the story, Sarty is almost a different person. He puts himself first and stops worrying about what his dad will say or do and can finally do what he wants to do and be the man he wants to be.
The Masterful Descriptions in William Faulkner’s a Rose for Emily
William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” tells a story of a woman who dies and explains the story of her life before her death. The story describes her life, the things she did and the funeral that was held after her death. The story starts be telling how everyone went to her funeral. The men attended because they respected her, and the women went because they wanted to see what was in the inside of her house. When Emily was alive, she did not pay taxes after her father died. The story talks about this a lot. The mayor did not make her pay, and when the next generation mayor came into office, he made her pay, yet she refused. The officers never arrested Emily, but they kept sending tax notices that went unanswered for a long period of time. The story also mentions how Emily claims that he father is not dead. This made people feel bad for Miss Emily, and people claimed she was crazy. The irony in the story is that Emily’s father corpse was kept inside the house.
The story ends describing what the house looked like at her funeral, how everything was covered in dust as if it had not been touched and the way her father looked in the untouched room that no one would open before Emily died. They say “They waiting until Miss Emily was decently in the ground before they opened it.” Inside laid her father’s body: gray, old and dusty. Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is a story of a man who breaks the law and dies. The story describes why the man was hanged, the life after death and his life before death. The irony in this story is great in the fact that that the entire story is a description of the man’s “great escape.” In reality they are describing what has happened in his afterlife after he is hanged. The story proceeds to tell about how he was freed from the rope that was supposed to kill him and how he gets away. He swims with all of his strength until he can reach the point where it is safe to get out and be free of the bullets. The author depicts beautiful scenery that ironically seems heavenly with “the fragrance of their blooms,” and “the wind made in their branches the music of Aeolian harps,” when describing the sounds this man hears. As the story continues through his long journey to what he believes to be home and gives the reader a sense of hope and relief when he at last sees his wife “looking fresh and cool and sweet” as he had thought of her trying to get home. After he lunges toward her to embrace her he feels an intense bluster on his neck and the only thing that Peyton Farquar can feel is a dead, cold silence. The kind where there is no returning. He now hangs dead from the Owl Creek Bridge.
The stories compare in so many different ways. The irony in both the stories correlates because they are both about death. Emily seems to believe that her father is not indeed dead, and that he is still alive. In a morbid sense, this is kind of like Peyton in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” because he dreams up an entire journey home in the seconds before he dies, a false sense of hope to escape. He would most likely want to believe that he is not about to die, as well as Emily believing that her father is alive. After Emily’s father dies, she does not leave the house. People never her see her out anymore. This leaves the reader thinking after it is revealed that he is still in the house, that she spent time with him as if he were alive.The other reason that these stories would compare for obvious reasons would be the love that Emily and Peyton have for their families. Emily acts as though her father is not dead, and isolates herself only because of the immense love that she had for her father. After this tragic death, she is consumed with him, and keeps memories such as his body and a portrait of him hanging in the house. The “iron-gray hair” that they find after finding his body shows that she still spent time with him, longing for him, as Peyton longed for his family. The way that even before his death he dreams of holding his wife and children, and the way he travels long and hard to reach home when he is about to die shows the commitment that he has to his family. The other most obvious reason that the stories are similar would be the fact that they both take place during a time of the war. Soldiers, officers or colonels hassle both Emily and Peyton. The reason for Peyton’s death was because he did not know the horseman was a Federal Scout. He broke the law and was hanged for it because he was not aware of the Scout’s identity. Peyton was made the example for the town, and because of this, he lost his family and his life. The officers and Mayor made Emily’s life easier at first giving her special treatment because of her father. She was made an idol in the town by the mayor: The brave soldier’s daughter who survived him. The new mayor tries to make her pay taxes just like any other law-abiding citizen, but Emily feels like she should not have to. Both stories use Emily and Peyton to show that they have to pay attention to laws and authority.
These stories both show a creepy and ironic look at the grieving process of death. Emily and Peyton both handle the situation of death in the same way. They both embrace the people who mean the most to them. Both stories depict the mind of a person dying and show the struggles that they go through when having to grip the harsh reality. It seems that both characters waiver in between what is reality and what is not. Emily shows this when it is revealed that she had been lying with her dead father. This is proven to be true when the people attending her funeral see the imprint of another head next to her father’s, and when they see the strand of gray hair. Peyton shows this through his hallucination of the trip home. The tone in both stories is eerie and serious. The tone in each story is very morbid, and leaves the reader feeling at the end of each story sorry for Emily and Peyton. Even though the story of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” actually tells in detail the way he feels about his emotions regarding death in a little more detail then in “A Rose for Emily,” the reader can still see by Emily’s actions the way she is feeling about this part of her life and her view of death.Regardless of whether Emily or Peyton broke laws in their lives, the story never denounces their actions. In a morbid perspective, the reader may even think that the narrator glorifies them by telling their stories. The authors in each of these stories also show that the characters have pride. They never shatter their spirit and think in the way that they are losing their family. Emily and Peyton both hold on to their loved ones by either keeping them physically or in their minds. Both stories leave the reader feeling glum as the stories end. Both stories also use flashbacks to help tell the story the way they author’s wanted it.
In “A Rose for Emily,” The author will often “jump” to different parts of Emily’s life to lead to the gruesome result at the end of the story. In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” uses flashbacks the most out of the two stories. In the three parts of the story, the narrator does not follow the chronological order in order to give the reader a shocking surprise at the end of the story just like Emily’s story. Both stories also use foreshadowing to lead up to the end of the stories. In “A Rose for Emily” foreshadowing is used when the neighbors start to notice the smell of something dead coming from her house. In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” the author uses foreshadowing by describing the unrealistic situation that Peyton is in as well as when the narrator explaining that he has one last thought about his family. This thought indicates that he is about to perhaps have dream.
William Faulkner: Author, Poet, and Screenwriter
William Faulkner, once stated ‘Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth’. William Faulkner ties this concept into his literature in many of his novels including Intruder in the Dust, one of his most popular novels at the time it was published. The novel addresses the issue of civil rights for African Americans. William Faulkner writes about an African American man who is accused of killing a white man but refuses to defend himself in trial in an attempt to maintain his dignity. William Faulkner is known by many for his ability to write about many issues other authors tend to turn away from because Faulkner had an attentiveness to the politics of sexuality and race. William Faulkner was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949, one of his greatest professional moments, which lead to more attention and interest in him and his works.
Faulkner was originally born as William Cuthbert Falkner on September 25th, 1897 in New Albany, Mississippi. His parents, Murry and Maud, named William after his great grandfather William Clark Falkner, who was a decorated Civil War hero and a bestselling author of ‘The White Rose of Memphis’. Williams Great Grandfather influenced Faulkner through his life and it is shown later in his writings. William Falkner changed his last name after he tried to fight in World War I for the United States and was rejected due to being “small and frail”. Falkner wanted to be a hero like his great grandfather, so he was determined to fight and joined the British Royal Air Force with forged papers as William Faulkner, which is why there is now a “u” in his name, born in Finchley, Middlesex, England.
In his early life, Faulkner’s mother always supported him and she taught William to read before he started school and later introduced him to many writers including Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare. Williams strongest emotional tie was with his childhood nurse Mammy Callie, who was a warm and loving woman who was born into slavery in 1840. She was a great storyteller and tales were rich in the rhythms of the Old South. Falkner listened to every word she spoke and he unconsciously hoarded it away until decades later when he wrote about them in his novels. Faulkners school life was complicated because when he was young he learned new material quickly and was naturally smart and he even skipped the second grade, but as he grew older he found school wasn’t as challenging for him and he began to withdraw into a world of imagination instead of keeping up with his classes. William Faulkner decided quit school after he almost failed the eleventh grade for the second time. Even though Faulkner never finished his high school career, with his veteran status he was able to enter the University of Mississippi in 1919. Faulkner began to act out a self-dramatizing role as a poet who had seen wartime service, and published poems and stories in his campus newspaper. Faulkner was even able to publish his first poem in ‘The New Republic’. Faulkner left school once again three semesters in and began to work in a New York bookstore and after that as a postmaster at the university’s post office in Oxford, but he was eventually asked to resign. This was because he would only sort the important looking mail every few days and would ignore or throw out everything else, and he would often closed up early to go for walks in the woods. After Faulkner no longer worked he moved to New Orleans where he began writing seriously. While in New Orleans, Faulkner started a friendship with Sherwood Anderson, a man who would later help him get his first novel published.
In Faulkner’s works he focuses on four themes that hold importance to him and he uses them to tell a story. Faulkner talked about the racism in his novel Light in August. In the novel the question of racial identity, what it means to be biracial, and the problem of Southern racism is addressed as the main character, Joe Christmas, looks white, but is believed that he has some amount of black blood in him. Throughout the novel, this affects him in that he is both ashamed and proud of his black ancestry, but later in the novel he acknowledges that trying to come to terms with his racial identity is what has shaped his life. The novel deals with the question of whether Christmas racial identity crisis is a necessary result of his biracial blood, or whether it is instead a result of the societal definitions of race. Another theme evident in Faulkner’s novels is slavery. Many of Faulkner’s characters work under the stigma of slavery, giving rise to the idea that the institution is a curse to all people and to the nation as a whole. Faulkner began to condemn segregation in the south causing him to be outspoken on racial issues. Faulkner believed that the states should end segregation without the involvement of the federal government. He went on to publish “A Letter to the North” in ‘Life’ magazine in 1956, discussing this issue. While the population of the Deep South as a whole included approximately one black person for every two white, the ratio in Mississippi was nearly one to one. One biographer writes that’ loved the South but he hated what was being done to despoil its land and what had been done to its people as intolerance allowed the color of a man’s skin to determine where he must eat or ride or worship’. During this time period the black people were required to ride at the back of buses and trains so they were not near the white people, they were restricted from hospitals and schools that were not specifically for the blacks, denied the right to vote, and treated as if slavery was still in place. Faulkner hated seeing this and wanted to fight to see it come to an end.
Reasons Why Emily is Insane in “A Rose for Emily”
Jules verne once said, “Solitude and isolation are painful things and beyond human endurance. ” In “A Rose for Emily,” by William Faulkner he reveals throughout the short story the unstable mind of Miss Emily Grierson. “A Rose for Emily” tells the story of a woman named Emily Grierson and her life in a nonlinear style. Faulkner talks about Emily living with her controlling father until he dies and the man she becomes falls in love with named Homer Barron until he disappears. By Faulkner writing, “A Rose for Emily,” he shows how isolation can drive a person to insanity through Emily. Her isolation and insanity came from her father and his death, the people in town, and the rejection of love from Homer Barron.
Emily was first isolated by her controlling father even though he was doing it because he loved her. Faulkner states that he “all the young men… had been driven away”(103) from her by her father. Even though her father may have isolated her out of love he kind of made himself her only social interactions. Emily became so attached to her father to where when he died she convinced herself that he “was not dead. She did that for three days”(103). She had people calling her to try and convince her to let them dispose of the body for days. After her father died she became unaware of things going on and things that had happened from never leaving her house. When Jefferson officials came to her house to try and get her to pay her taxes she replied with, “See Colonel Sartoris(103). ” He was the one who told Emily that the town would not make her pay taxes as an exchange for the money her father had loaned them. However, Faulkner informs the readers that Colonel Sartoris had been deceased for ten years. After her father’s death was when she started digging herself into a hole closer and closer to insanity.
After the isolation from her father she was then isolated because she lacked the cleanliness of her house and was judged by the people in town. They didn’t want to be seen with a person who wasn’t even able to upkeep their own house clean. The residents of Jefferson had to plan to “send her word to have her place cleaned up”(104) because of the awful smell that was coming from her home. From this one can understand that she had been isolated from Jefferson because no one wanted to associate with the lady with the smelly house in Jefferson. Emily’s servant, Tobe, became her single source of conversation everyday.
Emily’s road towards insanity cannot be put fully on her father or the people in town alone. The final breaking point of insanity for Emily was Homer Barron who did not feel the same way about her as she did him. Emily fell in love with Homer and saw him as a way to start interacting with some of the people in town again. The residents talked about how “Miss Emily had been to the jeweler’s and ordered a man’s toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on each piece”(106). One can conclude from this that she really liked Homer and probably dreamed of marrying him. However, she later realized her dreams were not going to happen when heard that Homer said “he liked men”(106) and consequently, she went to the druggist and bought arsenic to kill him with. At this point of the story, I saw Emily as just a cold-blooded killer but what made her go from a cold-blooded killer to insane was the fact that she slept next to Homer’s decaying corpse for decades.
Faulkner shows us how easy it is for someone in total continuous isolation to go down the route towards insanity. Through his story as readers we can learn that isolation can be a harmful thing so you should include yourself in thing in the world. You can take away a lesson to not let isolation take away your sanity.
Mindset and Character of Quentin in Faulkner’s the Sound and the Fury
The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner : Style Analysis
In the opening of June 2, 1910, the narrator creates an educated and reflective tones, by giving us insightful guidance, while thinking about his father. He talks about some of life’s principles that he learned through his father and gives us his opinion about it. He puts great emphasis on his father’s teachings and tries to derive lessons from them.
Faulkner’s specific diction highlights the thoughtfulness of the character and his idea of time. Mr. Compson argues that time is a “mausoleum” and a “reducto absurdum of all human experience” that can be a “symptom of mind-function”. By saying that time is reducto absurdum, or reduced to absurdity, Mr. Compson believes that life is insignificant since we will all die at some point. The narrator ponders on the paradox that’s been presented to him from his father, which is greatly puts him into deep thinking. Furthermore, he refers to his father as “Excrement”, because he thinks that one can be “oblivious” to time; his relationship with his father is the “shadow” that will bring his death. Quentin believes in his father’s values, but later on he comes to realize that he himself has forgotten those values. Throughout the book, Quentin will try to fight this recession in values, but in vain. Quentin’s father’s beliefs about time are somewhat contradictory and helpful to Quentin; he will try to understand and fight against time throughout the whole story.
The stream of consciousness point of view captures Quentin’s state of mind while relating his feelings. Quentin’s, the narrator, obsession about time helps him realize that one “can be oblivious to the sound for a long while, then in a second of ticking it can create in the mind unbroken the long diminishing parade of time [they] didn’t hear”, and always make them “wonder what time it was”. The lack of punctuation and correct syntax in these sentences prove that these are the narrator’s thoughts and feelings. He’s become too preoccupied with time that he always need to know what time it is. Quentin always refer to his father by saying, “Father said that”, or “Excrement Father said like sweating”, to show his attachment to his father. He refers to his father who taught him everything about his moral values. He strongly believe that his father is the right path to follow. By using stream of consciousness, Faulkner allows us to understand Quentin’s troubled mind and thought process.
Faulkner’s use of detail reinforces the sharpness of Quentin’s analytical brain. After recalling his father’s thoughts, Quentin concludes that time is a battle that reveals only “folly” and “despair”. In the novel’s entirety, the only character that seem to have logical thinking is none other than Quentin who is able to make conclusions about time unlike other characters. His downfall comes from his inaction, which lead him to paranoia and death. Quentin’s reference to “Jesus” and “Saint Francis” shows his attachment to religion which he learned from his father. He knows that spirituality is an important value but he is primarily focused on dealing with his time-related issues. Time and time again he references his father who has taught him everything he knows, although he doesn’t always fully agree with him. Quentin’s use of detail simply highlight his superior and more careful thinking compared to his brothers.
The organization of the passage moves from obsessed, to confused, and finally to relaxed to show Quentin’s confused state of mind. In the beginning, Quentin wakes up and recalls advices he learned from his father and he mentions about his watch and addiction to time. This part sets the stage for the reader to know that Quentin’s main fight is against time itself. The middle of the passage talks about Quentin’s environment and his roommate. Quentin moves away from talking about time and starts describing his environment, showing his keen observational skills. This passage provides a form or relief which helps the reader further empathize with Quentin. In the last passage, he talks goes back to talking about time again, but this time, in a more relaxed way, without being too serious. The passage prepares us because Quentin tells us to “go on and wonder”. This passage opens the way, and acts as kind of the starting point of his story. Faulkner’s organization helps us dive further into Quentin’s character by providing insights about his main conflict.
Faulkner’s use of stream of consciousness, and detail allows us to further investigate and understand Quentin. Stream of consciousness provides us with Quentin’s feelings. His detail and diction highlights Quentin’s mindset, while allowing us to understand his character.
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.