Benjy's Character in the Sound and the Fury

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Benjy's Character in The Sound and the Fury

In the novel, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, Benjy is an important character throughout the telling of the story. Benjy is the narrator of the first of four sections. His section is set in the novel's present, April 7, 1928, which is Benjy's thirty-third birthday. Benjy's section of the novel is often hard to understand because all the events are told in the present tense. All of his flashbacks and memories are told as if they were happening in the present. It is left to the reader to decipher what parts of the story are currently happening and what is merely a flashback to past years. Faulkner does this because Benjy's character is severely mentally retarded. Because of this retardation, he seems to have no concept of time and never entirely understands what is going on around him. Benjy constantly has to be taken care of, and this leads to insights into the other characters of the novel. Although Benjy is severely mentally retarded, he is capable of some things. He recognizes different people, especially his caretakers. He also always knows Caddy. Benjy becomes attached to Caddy as he grows up because she is always kind and caring to him. Caddy is always able to calm Benjy down when he gets upset. When Caddy leaves the story, she is usually the reason why Benjy gets so upset.

The capabilities of Benjy are important to the story because he provides an objective view of the events of the Compson household. Because of his condition, he is unable to comprehend the full meaning behind the other character's actions, but he can still provide the reader with an account of the story without any biases towards any one side. Benjy's portion of the novel is often much clearer because it is told with such simple sentence structure and a much more basic vocabulary than the other three sections. Benjy's section lays out the main story of the book, while the following sections fill in all of the holes.

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