William Faulkner "The Sound and the Fury". The Corruption of Southern Aristocratic Values

An Essay

Literature Review, 2013

6 Pages, Grade: 5.00


„The Sound and the Fury“ is a novel written by a celebrated American novelist William Faulkner. The novel was first published in 1929 and was soon recognized as one of the greatest Southern novels ever written. Praised for its complexity and subtlety, the novel challenges the reader until the last page with its stream of consciousness narratives which require a significant amount of attention from the reader, given the fact that Faulkner changes both the narrative and the style of writing with each chapter. Through the narratives of three characters: a mentally disabled Benjamin, his oldest brother Quentin III and their cold-hearted brother Jason IV., Faulkner tells the story of the tragic decline of the Compson family in a town of Jefferson in the northern Mississippi. Each of these characters, in their own special way, describes the final stages of the downfall of their once wealthy and acknowledged family which started after the Civil war and with the beginning of the Reconstruction. The fourth chapter is written in the narrative voice of the author himself but the main focus is put on Dilsey, a black woman who practically raised all the Compson children on her own and serves as the central moral figure of the novel until it reaches its defeating end.

The novel begins with the chapter written in the voice of Benjamin Compson, the youngest son of Caroline and Jason III Compson, who is mentally disabled from birth as well as deaf and mute. This part of the novel is the most difficult to follow since Benjamin does not tell the difference between past and present: he just recollects things and events in the way they happened, without any personal comment or perspective. He cannot separate his memories from present events; therefore this chapter is consisted of numerous scenes or captions of scenes from the fall of 1898 when his grandmother died until April 7th 1928, the day of his 33rd birthday. Nevertheless, Benjamin manages to successfully introduce the characters to the reader as well as the interrelationship between them, using his scattered and random recollections of events. Firstly, it is perfectly clear that the Compson children are devoid of caring and devoted parents. Mrs Caroline Compson, born Bascomb, is of delicate health and her days are filled with repeated complaining and self-pity. Her hypochondria devours her and she believes that she is on a constant brink of death.” It`s a judgment on me.”. Mother said. “But I`ll be gone soon, too”[1].She is not a real mother to neither of her children, leaving the task of raising them in the hands of the household`s maid Dilsey. The only child she shows affection to is Jason, who is the least warm-hearted of all her children. Mrs Compson is utterly delusional and ignorant about her children and their needs and so self-centered that she actually believed her oldest son Quentin committed suicide just to spite her. Apart from being a poor maternal figure, Mrs Compson suffered from extreme insecurity regarding her family name Boscomb. She constantly felt inferior to the grand Compson heritage and she had an urge to defend her own family name, especially because her brother Maury moved in with them and began an adulterous relationship with their neighbor, Mrs. Patterson. He lives of their family money and has succumbed to drinking.


[1] Faulkner William, “The Sound and the Fury”, Vintage 1995, page 3

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William Faulkner "The Sound and the Fury". The Corruption of Southern Aristocratic Values
An Essay
American literature
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ISBN (Book)
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william, faulkner, sound, fury, corruption, southern, aristocratic, values
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Mateja Grbes (Author), 2013, William Faulkner "The Sound and the Fury". The Corruption of Southern Aristocratic Values, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/268305


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