The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury
by William Faulkner –
1929 / paper & audio
199 pages (of story + 246 in Norton Critical Edition)
8:51 audio
rating 9.5

I’ve read this twice before and  I’m sure there’s always something more to get out of  it but this time I’m not getting a whole lot of good stuff.   In my opinion at the moment,  it’s a great story but a bit more artificially complex than necessary.

In Part 1 – Saturday,  April 1928 – Benji’s constant crying and being told to “Hush,”  is totally irritating.  Part of this section takes place in 1928 but a lot of it is flashbacks from other times,  like the day of Grandma’s death or funeral.   Benji is retarded or not mentally right and his stream of consciousness is way too convoluted to bother straightening out,  especially for a first chapter,  even when you know the issues and the ending.

The pronouns are a mess – who is Quentin – if you don’t know – in one section of this Part Quentin is  a boy, in another Quentin is a girl – easy enough when you’ve finished the book and discover that a girl child was named after the boy and his namesakes.  But all the names are confusing.  Caddy the sister is also a caddie on a golf course.   And everybody smells according to Benji – why are Caddie’s undies dirty?  And did Benji rape someone?   All the  “He said, ” “She said,”  “He said,”  etc. gets really irritating.   This is stream of consciousness from an autistic man – age about 35 or so.  Lots of time/setting changes which are really confusing unless you pay close attention.  Probably impossible to listen to and make any sense of unless you’ve already read the book and understand that.

Part 2,  1910,  This is the story of Quentin the boy who is now at Harvard from the sale of family  land.  The symbolism is overbearing – watches = time (okay fine) and more.  The language is irritating – “Nigger, nigger, nigger.”   And then it’s Quentin turn to remember the day of Grandma’s funeral.  Also, he’s convinced he deflowered Caddy,  his sister – this was supposedly his way of protecting her from the family wrath after she gets pregnant by Dalton but,  after Quentin has a fight with Dalton,  Caddy marries someone else and then runs away only to be rejected by her family.   The Comptons are a mess!   Benji’s retarded,  Quinton is obsessed with his sister.   Caddy is sexually messed up.  Dad just philosophically lets it flow because he’s a drunk.  Mom gets “sick headaches.”   –  I’ll bet.   The grammar and punctuation is bizarre  because Quentin is bizarre.  He finally can’t take the hypocrisy any more and commits suicide.  The little girl Quentin finds is an excellent section – from start to finish.  Quentin really wants to be a protector,  a hero,  but there is no way.

Part 3 – Friday,  1928  Jason was more interesting this time round.  He’s such an ass about his so-called position in the town and his sister’s child who now lives with him and his mother.  Quentin is dead,  Caddy has run away,  Quentin,  Caddy’s daughter lives with Jason and his mother.  Caddy sends money for the child and Jason takes it as he’s convinced her to make him guardian.  Jason provides for his mom and Benji but he’s a very angry man, a thief and a liar.  But the money is stolen back, along with Jason’s savings,  by Miss Quentin when she runs away.

Part 4  Easter Sunday, 1828 –  Dilsy, the main servant and most stable member of the household goes to her church and prays for the family.  Caddy is discovered missing,  Jason gives up and slaps Luster, the other caretaker which makes Benji finally stop crying – although he’s lost his innocence – I think.

Jason Compton – Dad in the story – a drunk,  dies

Caroline Compson – Mom in the story,  cries a lot and is sick.

Quentin – eldest child – male – goes to Harvard – obsessed with sex and Caddy

Candace (Caddy) – second child – female gets pregnant by Dalton, marries Sydney and leaves him

Jason IV – third child – successful and domineering

Benjamin (Benjy / Maury) – youngest child – autistic

Quentin – daughter of Caddy and … Dalton?  –

Miz Dulcie – the family servant / child care –



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