The Sound and the Fury, novel by William Faulkner, published in 1929,
that details the destruction and downfall of the aristocratic Compson
family from four different points of view. Faulkner’s fourth novel, The Sound
and the Fury is notable for its nonlinear plot structure and its unconventional
narrative style. William Faulkner’s early work was poetry, but he became
famous for his novels set in the American South, frequently in his fabricated
Yoknapatawpha County, with works that included The Sound and the Fury, As
I Lay Dying and Absalom, Absalom! His controversial 1931
novel Sanctuary was turned into two films, 1933’s The Story of Temple
Drake as well as a later 1961 project. Faulkner was awarded the 1949 Nobel
Prize in Literature and ultimately won two Pulitzers and two National Book
Awards as well. The story is told in four chapters by four different narrators:
Benjy, the youngest Complain son: Quentin, the oldest son : Jason, the middle
son: and Faulkner himself, acting as an omniscient, third- person narrator who
focuses on Dilsey the Compson’s servant.
The chapter April sixth 1928 starts with the morning of good Friday,
the day before Benjy’s narration takes place. Jason Compson IV is in the
Compson house, fighting with his mother and with his niece, Miss Quentin.
Jason thinks back on his family and his own personal history. His sister Caddy’s
marriage to Herbert Head crumbled in 1911, when it became apparent to
Herbert that Caddy’s unborn child was not his. Mrs. Compson refused to take
Caddy in, but Mr. Compson and Dilsey saw to it that the family took in Caddy’s
child, Miss Quentin. Jason assumed control of the household when Mr.
Compson died of alcoholism. Herbert Head had offered Jason a job at his bank,
but rescinded that offer when he divorced Caddy. This retraction left Jason no
choice but to work at the local farm-supply store. Though Mrs. Compson hopes
Jason will own the store one day, Jason is bitter about having lost his bank job
and having been forced to work in the farm-supply store. Now in his mid-
thirties, Jason has grown into a devious and mean-spirited man. He has
concocted an elaborate scheme to pocket the money Caddy sends him to support
Miss Quentin’s upbringing. Mrs. Compson’s poor eyesight and blind love for
Jason have prevented her from detecting his scheme. So far, Jason has stolen
nearly fifty thousand dollars from his sister and niece over the course of fifteen
years. He uses this extra money to play the cotton market and to pay for a
prostitute in Memphis. Caddy is the only one who distrusts Jason and suspects
that he is scheming. At the end of the chapter, Jason sees Miss Quentin go by
with a red tie man. Miss Quentin angrily asks Mrs Compson why Jason behaves
so hostile to her? Then Quentin says that she misbehaves because Jason made
her that way. These events are occurring in this chapter.
The Fourth chapter April Eighth,1928 starts with the Easter Sunday.
Dilsey walks up to the Compson house and manages to get the kitchen up and
running despite the interference of Mrs. Compson and Luster. Luster tells
Dilsey that Jason is angry because someone has broken the window in his room.
Benjy eats his breakfast and whimpers. Jason emerges and testily sends Dilsey
to call Miss Quentin to breakfast. There is no answer from Miss Quentin’s
room. Jason suddenly springs up the stairs, seizes his mother’s keys, and
unlocks Miss Quentin’s door. The window is open and Miss Quentin is gone.
His papers are there, but all his money is gone. Jason calls the police and asks
them to send a deputy to the house. He storms out. Meanwhile, Dilsey takes
Luster, Frony, and Benjy to an Easter service at the local Black church, where
Reverend Shegog gives a boisterous sermon about the life and death of Christ.
When they return to the house, they find that Jason still has not returned. Jason
has gone to see the sheriff to demand help in tracking down Miss Quentin.
At the end of the chapter, Jason comes back to town. Luster
is driving Benjy in the carriage. As they arrive at the cemetery, Luster deviates
from the usual course T.P. used to take, and Benjy begins howling at the
unfamiliar route. Jason comes across Luster and Benjy. He hits Luster across
the head, ordering him never to turn off the route Benjy is used to taking, and
strikes Benjy in an attempt to quiet him. Benjy continues to howl. However, as
Luster drives Benjy home, the familiar façades, doorways, windows, signs, and
trees of the town of Jefferson all appear to Benjy in their ordered place, and he