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Allison Miller’s Formal Blog Post on The Sound of Fury: April 8, 1928

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Ben’s voice roared and roared. Queenie moved again, her feet began to clop-clop steadily again, and at once Ben hushed. Luster looked quickly back over his shoulder, then he drove on. The broken flower drooped over Ben’s fist and his eyes were empty and blue and serene again as cornice and faĉade flowed smoothly once more from left to right, post and tree, window and doorway and signboard each in its ordered place.” (Faulkner, The Sound And the Fury)

In this passage, Luster made a left turn on his way to the graveyard and caused Benjy to scream. When Jason came, he drove Queenie back to the original path, where Benjy got quiet again. This scene showed that the past is still powerful because it is still there. In other words, time is normalized by making Queenie walk back slowly to the original path, and Benjy’s reaction after the turn. Faulkner showed this to warn the readers that time is constructed in order to normalize society. Time worked against Benjy because he became trapped in the past. He couldn’t escape because he did the same thing every day.  

One observation was Queenie’s movement to the left. When she moved to the left, it disrupted Benjy’s state of mind because it was a different from the path. However, once Jason brought Queenie back to a slow pace back onto the path, Benjy was quiet. Queenie’s movement could represent a shift of  sense of change of time, something different than the norm. When going back onto the path, the narrative made Benjy a dependent character by staying on the familiar path. The narrative made him unable to accept that change of time and therefore staying in the past. Once Queenie began to “clop-clop steadily again”, it represented time going back to the way it was, creating a  sense of time (the past).  When Benjy’s past (not Benjy’s narrative of the past, but what happened chronologically to his family in the past) dominated the movement, it became the more “ablelist” concept, making it impossible to see any change for Benjy.

Another observation was when after Queenie got back on the path.  What’s interesting is Faulkner’s word choice in the last sentence (such as the word ”serene’). Because Queenie’s movement might have represented a difference or shift of constructed time, it caused Benjy to scream because it was different.  The word serene made the scene as if Benjy didn’t scream. The word serene gets rid of that tension, as if nothing happened.  Also, Benjy’s empty stare was compared to nature and society by objects and concepts. The objects represented “normal” functions in society and nature, and could also be a symbol for nature and society working in a specific order. The whole sentence erased the tension within the scene, as if relieving Ato Quayson’s “aesthetic nervousness” by suppressing it with constructed time. No one knows what Benjy’s scream indicated but by erasing the tension, Faulkner created hid Benjy’s scream by making everything calm again because if he screamed, he would be disrupting society’s “normal” function and maybe enforcing change to the past.

Overall, Benjy’s character became less than what he was because constructed time dominated the ending.  It’s as if the narrator tranquilized Benjy in order not disrupt the repetition of constructed time and let time and society continue to be normalized. However, the question is, “Can society and nature break away from constructed time?”

Written by library1288

October 20th, 2010 at 12:03 am