Sunday, October 31, 2021

Sunday Synopsis - The Sound and the Fury


The Sound and the FuryThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The Sound and the Fury is a novel in four parts. Parts 1, 3, and 4 are set on 3 consecutive days in 1928 while part 2 is set in 1910. The novel centers on the Compson family, or more specifically, their downfall.

I just HAD to re-read this classic. I started and stopped twice before I finally MADE myself read it through to the end. 

I was assigned this book in ninth grade advanced English, and I have no idea how I read it. Maybe I didn't. At times, the vocabulary is very complex. Add that to the "stream of consciousness" technique, and it's a real winner (sarcasm). Our teacher must have had to explain everything to us (even in an advanced class). It's that confusing. I had to consult several online references just to figure out what was going on and if what I thought was happening was actually correct. Some of the same events occur in multiple parts of the story because they are written from different points-of-view.

With events such as promiscuity, incest, theft, laziness, unplanned pregnancy, divorce, blatant racism including the "N" word, and sexual tension, I wonder how it was never banned at my school.

The Compson Family consists of...
There was a movie of this book in 1959 and a remake in 2014

  • Jason Compson III - Father, patriarch, lawyer, congregational minister, and alcoholic.
  • Caroline Compson - Jason's wife, a self-absorbed hypochondriac who can be quite mean
  • Quentin Compson III - First born son. The family sells part of their land in order to send him to Harvard. Harvard was his mother's dream, not Quentin's, but he does not get a choice. He is embarrassed by his sister's unplanned pregnancy. He commits suicide.
  • Candace (Caddy) Compson - Second child of Jason and Caroline. Sensitive yet hard-headed . She is the only character who really cares for Benjy and Quentin's best friend. She is later banished from the family for having a child out of wedlock.
  • Jason Compson IV - Angry at the world. Bitter. Racist. Preoccupied with money. Dishonest. He embezzles the support money sent for Miss Quentin. Had to become the "man of the house" at a young age. The child that Caroline likes the most.
  • Benjamin (Benjy) Compson - The 4th child who was originally named Maury after his uncle, but they changed his name due to his mental illness. Caddy loves him; he loves Caddy. But she leaves. The family is embarrassed by Benjy, especially his own mother. Yet Benjy demonstrates intuition the other characters lack.
  • Miss Quentin Compson - Daughter of Caddy due to an illicit affair. She goes to live with the Compsons after her mother Caddy and her husband divorce. She was named for her uncle Quentin who had been Caddy's brother and best friend. She is a wild child. Jason is always after her about skipping school and being caught in compromising situations with men.
  • The Servants - Dilsey, her children Versh, Frony, and T.P., and Frony's son Luster.
The theme is the demise of a once-wealthy and powerful Southern family and a loss of their values. You will see recurring symbols and ideas in the book such as time, water, fire, and shadows. However, the ending does complete the story or reveal any final outcome. It was very unsatisfying for me.

The name of the story comes from a soliloquy in Macbeth whose last lines read:
it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

I love this part of Macbeth, and I think that's why I thought I enjoyed this book when I was in school, but I was mistaken. Not only is Benjy an actual "idiot" as they may have called him in those times (and I mean no disrespect), but other characters are also pretty idiotic, in fact, most of them are.

I will not give away any further details of the plot except to quote one section as a demonstration of the complexity of the novel:
Two tears slid down her fallen cheeks, in and out of the myriad coruscations of immolation and abnegation and time.
(Faulkner, William,. The Sound and the Fury (p. 140). GENERAL PRESS. Kindle Edition.)

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1 comment:

  1. Nice review. Not sure why I never had to read Faulkner.


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