The Sound and the Fury

Topics: Suicide, Absalom, Absalom!, The Sound and the Fury Pages: 6 (2713 words) Published: October 8, 1999

William Faulkner's background influenced him to write the unconventional novel The Sound and the Fury. One important influence on the story is that Faulkner grew up in the South. The Economist magazine states that the main source of his inspiration was the passionate history of the American South, centered for him in the town of Oxford, Mississippi, where he lived most of his life. Similarly, Faulkner turns Oxford and its environs, "my own little postage stamp of native soil," into Yoknapatawpha County, the mythical region in which he sets the novel (76). In addition to setting, another influence on the story is Faulkner's own family. He had three brothers, black servants, a mother whose family was not as distinguished as her husband's, a father who drank a lot, and a grandmother called Damuddy who died while he was young. In comparison, the novel is told from the point of view of the three Compson brothers, shows the black servant Dilsey as a main character, has Mrs.! Compson complain about how her family is beneath her husband's, portrays Mr. Compson as a alcoholic, and names the children's grandmother Damuddy who also dies while they are young. Perhaps the most important influence on the story is Faulkner's education, or lack thereof. He never graduated from high school, let alone college, and in later life wryly described himself as "the world's oldest sixth grader." He took insistent pride in the pre-intellectual character of his creativity, and once declined to meet a delegation of distinguished foreign authors because "they'd want to talk about ideas. I'm a writer, not a literary man" (76). In writing The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner pays no attention to normal literary work. He often uses incoherent and irrational phrases to bring the reader into the minds of the characters. This background, together with a believable plot, convincing characterization and important literary devices enables William Faulkner in The Sound and the! Fury to develop the theme of the regression of the family. The structure of The Sound and the Fury leaves much to be desired. First of all, the time sequence is chaotic and only leads to confusion. The first section is told from the point of view of a thirty three year old idiot, Benjy Compson, who can tell no difference between the past or present. The Benjy section is very difficult to understand because the slightest incident can trigger a memory from him and completely replace what is happening in the immediate time frame. For instance, the first jump in time occurs on just the second page of the book when Luster says, "Cannot you never crawl through here without snagging on that nail." Benjy automatically thinks back to when he went with Caddy to deliver a letter to Mrs. Patterson and got stuck on the fence near Christmas. When Caddy says in the same memory, "You don't want your hands froze on Christmas, do you," Benjy thinks of an earlier incident when Caddy tried to convince Mrs. Compson to let him come outside with her (F! aulkner 4). The next section, told from Quentin Compson's perspective, is as equally puzzling. Since Quentin has decided to end his life, he reminisces about his past and the reason he chose to die. The reason is his sister's act of adultery. Whenever he is reminded of events that have to do with his sister's sin, he also goes back in time. When Quentin is thinking about how good the weather will be for the Harvard boat race in June, the month of brides, he thinks of Caddy's wedding day. He then thinks of the roses at her wedding and of trying to convince his father that he committed incest with his sister (77). Another uncertainty in this novel is the lack of rising action or climax. The book is told on Easter weekend, 1928, and gives the whole history of the family by retelling the events that occurred in the minds of the characters. To begin, the first section tells what will happen in the rest of the novel in the form of Benjy's...
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