One of the main realities of the human existence is the constant passage of time. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner explores time in many new and unexpected ways as he tells the sad tail of the Compson family. The Compsons are an old Southern family to whom time has not been kind to. Years of falling apart mainly from slavery have brought them to the brink of destruction. Most of the story focuses on the Compson children who are undergoing the worst of the social and moral decay. Each of the four children see time in a different way, but in the strangest and most bizarre way toward time that is told in the story by one of the three brothers, Quentin. He is fully fixated with his past and can think of nothing else. He also becomes determined to stop time itself that eventually forced him to take his own life. Quentin's obsession with the past and with the passage of time is a theme of not only the Quentin section but of the entire book, and it is the key to understanding what Faulkner is trying to say about the downfall of Southern culture and it's traditions. To fully understand the motif of time in the Quentin section, it is first necessary to compare it with the different ways Faulkner uses time in the other three sections. The first section is told from the point of view of a thirty three year old idiot, Benjy Compson, who can't 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, "Can't 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,...
Cited: Faulkner, William, 1897-1962 "The Sound and the Fury" New York W.W .Norton & Company
An authoritative text, backgrounds and context criticism / edited by David Minter.- 2nd ed.
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