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The Sound and the Fury


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Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, said Macbeth. William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury derived from this saying; however, the sound and the fury of the Compson family derived from something much more than a Shakespearean play. In fact, the sound and the fury bloomed from within the walls of their own home.

This novel takes place in the early 1900’s in Mississippi. The novel opens up in the perspective the mentally-ill member of the family, Benjy. He narrates his part in a structure known as stream of consciousness. This structure bounces around from past to present based on things that cause Benjy to focus on a memory. He absolutely loves his sister Caddy, who later on causes a problem within the family. He bellows and screams whenever he doesn’t get to see her or she gets into trouble causing the “sound” within the house.

Following Benjy’s part of the novel, the second part comes from the point of view of Quentin, which takes place 18 years before Benjy’s narration. By being the oldest son of the family, Quentin finds himself trying to maintain the values of the family. Being a Harvard student, he falls subject to the many stresses of life. After Caddy becomes pregnant out of wedlock, he tries to convince his family that he got her pregnant in order to try to save the family from any more hurt than would already occur. Within the stress of life, he gets too overwhelmed forcing him to lose all respect for himself.

The third part, following Quentin’s part, comes from the mind of Jason, the man of the family. Remember the villain from any movie? Yeah, that’s Jason. The moment the reader listens to Jason, he falls into the anger and hurt of his mind. He takes care of Caddy’s daughter named Miss Quentin, ironically. Being the man of the family, he tries to isolate Miss Quentin from the rebellious nature that her mother once embraced. In his efforts, however, Jason falls just short of protecting the child. With her rebellion, she causes Jason to lose his mind basically. Jason causes the “fury” within the house.

Finally, the final part describes Dilsey, the caretaker. Although she doesn’t directly narrate this part, she still ends up being the focus of the final part. She tries to maintain peace within the family. She tries to take care of the mother who always seems to have something wrong with her. I personally loved this character. Dilsey, to me, represented all the good in the world and what I believe the world should strive to be like. Overall, Dilsey stands as the epitome of the peace that the family lacked.

Overall, this novel definitely sheds a new light on the typical family. As families grow and prosper, problems do arise that may or may not cause the family to fall apart. Whether or not the family tries to endure and prosper remains in the hands of the members. I personally encourage everyone to read this book but make sure to stick with the novel. Since the first part seems hard to follow, most people don’t try to continue. However, once the first part ends, the novel becomes easier to understand. The Sound and the Fury proves not every family truly has peace.

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Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,
The Sound and the Fury