THE SOUND AND THE FURY William Faulkner’s background influenced him to write the unconventional novel The Sound and the Fury. One important influence on the story is that Faulkner grew up in the South. The Economist magazine states that the main source of his inspiration was the passionate history of the American South, centered for him in the town of Oxford, Mississippi, where he lived most of his life. Similarly, Faulkner turns Oxford and its environs, my own little postage stamp of native soil, into Yoknapatawpha County, the mythical region in which he sets the novel (76). In addition to setting, another influence on the story is Faulkner’s own family. He had three brothers, black servants, a mother whose family was not as distinguished as her husband’s, a father who drank a lot, and a grandmother called Damuddy who died while he was young.
In comparison, the novel is told from the point of view of the three Compson brothers, shows the black servant Dilsey as a main character, has Mrs.! Compson complain about how her family is beneath her husband’s, portrays Mr. Compson as a alcoholic, and names the children’s grandmother Damuddy who also dies while they are young. Perhaps the most important influence on the story is Faulkner’s education, or lack thereof. He never graduated from high school, let alone college, and in later life wryly described himself as the world’s oldest sixth grader. He took insistent pride in the pre-intellectual character of his creativity, and once declined to meet a delegation of distinguished foreign authors because they’d want to talk about ideas. I’m a writer, not a literary man (76).
In writing The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner pays no attention to normal literary work. He often uses incoherent and irrational phrases to bring the reader into the minds of the characters. This background, together with a believable plot, convincing characterization and important literary devices enables William Faulkner in The Sound and the! Fury to develop the theme of the regression of the family. The structure of The Sound and the Fury leaves much to be desired. First of all, the time sequence is chaotic and only leads to confusion. The first section is told from the point of view of a thirty three year old idiot, Benjy Compson, who can tell no difference between the past or present.
The Benjy section is very difficult to understand because the slightest incident can trigger a memory from him and completely replace what is happening in the immediate time frame. For instance, the first jump in time occurs on just the second page of the book when Luster says, Cant you never crawl through here without snagging on that nail. Benjy automatically thinks back to when he went with Caddy to deliver a letter to Mrs. Patterson and got stuck on the fence near Christmas. When Caddy says in the same memory, You don’t want your hands froze on Christmas, do you, Benjy thinks of an earlier incident when Caddy tried to convince Mrs. Compson to let him come outside with her (F! aulkner 4).
The next section, told from Quentin Compson’s perspective, is as equally puzzling. Since Quentin has decided to end his life, he reminisces about his past and the reason he chose to die. The reason is his sister’s act of adultery. Whenever he is reminded of events that have to do with his sister’s sin, he also goes back in time. When Quentin is thinking about how good the weather will be for the Harvard boat race in June, the month of brides, he thinks of Caddy’s wedding day.
He then thinks of the roses at her wedding and of trying to convince his father that he committed incest with his sister (77). Another uncertainty in this novel is the lack of rising action or climax. The book is told on Easter weekend, 1928, and gives the whole history of the family by retelling the events that occurred in the minds of the characters. To begin, the first section tells what will happen in the rest of the novel in the form of Benjy’s memories. It informs the reader th! at Mr. Compson and Damuddy dies, Uncle Maury is having an affair with a married woman, Benjy gets castrated, and that Caddy gets pregnant, married, and then denounced by her family when she is left by her husband. Since the first part already tells what happens to the family, there is no suspense.
The rest of the novel is just the same events retold from a different view. There is nothing to look forward to but the clarification of the events that already occurred. The closest thing there is to a climax is when Quentin runs away with the money Jason stole from her. But, since neither of the characters are the protagonist, the event is not a dramatic enough change in the novel to be considered as a turning point. Finally, the want of resolve makes the book seem barren.
The struggle Caddy went through is indecisive. Caddy spent her whole life battling her parents to show that their way of life was iniquitous. Instead, she is the one who gets pregnant and trapped in a lo! veless marriage, divorced from her husband for having an affair before him, and having the daughter she bore removed from her care because she was deemed an unfit mother. The last pitiful account of Caddy in the book is when she tries to get a glimpse of her daughter Quentin, who later runs away with a man from a traveling carnival (202). Quentin’s role in the book also seems pointless.
He tried to live a fruitful life but only succeeded in killing himself. He got so involved with his sister and her life that he forgot the value of his own. After Faulkner meticulously describes how Quentin feels and thinks, he ends the character’s life and shows no significance of what Quentin went through to the reader. Undoubtedly, Benjy’s character seems the most meaningless. The only person who showed any sign of love to him was his sister Caddy.
He spent his whole life being shifted between people who only thought of him as a burden. In the end, he is sent to an mental institutio! n and is never heard from again. Therefore, the greatest fulfillment of The Sound and the Fury does not come from the the sequence of events, climax, or resolve, but the appreciation of the battle each character fights. Caddy, Quentin, and Jason, each representing different elements of society, prove that being a Compson can only lead to a futile life. Caddy’s character represents the rebellious side of mankind. The first signs off her defiance show when she is just seven years old.
When Caddy is playing in the branch, she squats down and gets her dress wet. Even with all of the warnings from Versh and Quentin, she does not care if her parents find out. Instead, she takes off her dress in front of the servants, and then plays in the water. Even when Jason threatens to tell on her, she tells him she does not care. In fact, she says she will tell their parents herself (Faulkner 17). When she is older, about eighteen, Caddy commits her biggest act of disobedience.
She loses her virginity to Dalton Ames in an attempt to deny everything her parents stand for, even if it means losing something that she can never get back. When she returns home from her date, she avoids Benjy because she know! s that he can sense sexual changes in her. In the past, he would always moan and holler when he sensed that she was doing something with a man that she was not supposed to do. All she had to do to make him stop was to wash her face and mouth, but now she can not simply wash her sin away, so she tries to stay away from him. Once he see …