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Sarah Roop’s Final Project on Benjy’s Narrative

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[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/37NHqGfzb6k" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]The Sound and the Fury

Initially in Benjy’s narrative from The Sound and the Fury, it can be difficult to understand and follow his story, as his thoughts and experiences flow from one to another often without apparent connections. However, upon closer analysis, the events maintain key elements that connect the sequence, whether it is people or things that are said or represented. Unable to fully communicate with his surrounding, Benjy is left to experience things taking them as they are, yet not fully comprehending the reason or meaning behind it all. His narrative is a combination of his memories mixed with his current daily occurrences. With my project, through the usage of photographs and audio clips combined visual text, I worked to break Benjy’s narrative down to the key components showing the flow of his mind and the connections between his thought processes.

The photographs presented in the video reinforce the foremost people and events of his life. I chose to incorporate repetition of the images, as opposed to finding multiple images for related events. Through this repetition, it makes it easier to follow the storyline and see the connection of the events. The usage of the same photographs also conveys the mindset of Benjy. In that his experiences were simplistic and, while they jump from one to another, ultimately, they are all very similar in his mind. For example in the beginning of the video, the photo of the golfer saying “caddie”, leads him to think of his sister Caddy and while he thinks of her, he thinks of her connection with the smell of trees. Then later when he thinks of Caddy and trees he thinks of her in that same mindset, pulling from the same memory thus the same sensory elements. To aide in the flow of his narrative, I used textual and audio components to reinforce the visual aspects.

In the beginning I was undecided on whether to use solely audio clips versus text, as they both allow viewers to take different understanding of the video. Text allows for the viewer to read the narrative, as one would do reading his narrative in the novel, allowing for a similar experience. While audio clips reach the viewer in a different manner, permitting them to take in Benjy’s narrative and ultimately assess it from a different angle. I decided that incorporating both aspects allows for a wider spectrum of understanding, in addition to reaching a larger audience as some respond better to audio than to text or vice versa. For both the text and the audio, I took direct parts of his narrative, at the most simple level. This includes lines spoken by his family and thoughts that are recurrent, for example that Caddy smelled like trees. The included excerpts often occur throughout the section, such as people to telling Benjy to “hush up” or “quit that moaning”. With the text and audio, I hoped to add character to the photographs of Benjy’s narrative.

Though Benjy is unable to talk in order to communicate with the world, he still is affected by the events and people around him. Stream of conscious does not allow for clear distinctions of where one thought or event ends and the other begins. Nonetheless, the are connected by certain triggers. And it is through this that Benjy lives his life, replaying memories as they relate to the present.

Written by sroop

November 29th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Finally, The Final Project of Sam, Kathleen, Allison, Sarah, and Katherine: “The Sound of Tomorrow”

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What started as a sequel to William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, became a more informed, modernized tale inspired by the Compson family.  This project is an attempt to apply current disability theory to the stereotypically dysfunctional family. Within this piece, we ask  the question:  How does the Compson family complicate our ambiguous definition of disability?  Split into five narratives that all take place within a short period of time (no more than a couple weeks), we hope to provide a level of depth to these characters to at least provoke introspection about how we see disability and how it effects our everyday lives.

Finally, we hope you enjoy what has turned into a (very) short novella: “The Sound of Tomorrow”

Benjy Compson

Quentin Compson

Candace Compson

Jason Compson


Written by Katherine Sullivan

November 29th, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Susan’s Class Summary for October 18

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Class began with Dr. Foss announcing that the promised information about the extra credit theatre going opportunity is indeed on the blog.  Next, Dr. Foss brought up the fact that we actually have a Major Paper/Project.  He assured us that we will be receiving further information on this paper/project sometime.  With business matters out of the way, we dove into William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.  Through the course of the class, we (re)analyzed Quentin’s narration through the lens of disability as compared to Benjy’s and almost unanimously established that Jason is (in Dr. Foss’s words) a jerk.  We also looked at the intersection of disability with racism and misogyny in Jason’s narrative.

To rehash what happened in the ancient times of the previous Friday, Dr. Foss led us in a large group discussion in which he invited us to consider the similarities and differences between Quentin’s narrative and Benjy’s.  He asked us to what extent should we read Quentin’s narrative as coming from a disabled person.  A class member stated that Benjy’s narrative is written scene by scene but not in chronological order whereas Quentin’s narrative isn’t discrete enough to be broken down into scenes.  This lack of scenes occurs despite the expectation that Quentin should be able to produce a logical narration because, even if he is disabled, he is not disabled in the same way as Benjy.  Therefore, Benjy and Quentin’s narrations are similar in that they are both disjointed.  This conversation led to a contemplation of which narrator we could/should trust the most.  A class member stated that they were more inclined to trust Benjy as a narrator because he brings no personal bias into his narration.  Quentin, on the other hand, saturates his narration with his personal views, primarily those concerning Caddy.  Dr. Foss challenged that idea, saying that perhaps Benjy would not be a trustworthy narrator because he may not necessarily be cognizant to all of his surroundings.  To conclude our rehashing, a class member suggested that Quentin might be passing as “normal” even though he might actually have a mental or anxiety-based disability.

We next moved onto part three of Faulkner’s novel, April Sixth, 1928, the narration in Jason’s point of view.  After watching the projector focus with those cool lines, Dr. Foss displayed the Class Meeting Document so we could break into small groups and discuss the questions.  The first question my small group tackled was whether or not Jason should be viewed as someone with a disability or as someone who is just a jerk.  Initially, one of my group members suggested that Jason might be struggling with some sort of anxiety disorder because of his desire to control everything around him, namely Caddy’s daughter Quentin.  When other group members disagreed with assigning Jason with a disability, that group member considered that he might’ve been trying to impose disability onto Jason because of the nature of this course.  We next referred to the quote from Jason’s section that was provided by Dr. Foss:

And there I was, without any hat, looking like I was crazy too.  Like a man would naturally think, one of them is crazy and another drowned himself and the other one was turned out into the street by her husband, what’s the reason the rest of them are not crazy too.

We used this quote to represent the fact that Jason is ultimately concerned with how others perceive him, his family, and his appearance.  We thought that he was trying to disassociate himself completely from the Compson family.  For us, this was a trait that easily positioned Jason into the realm of jerk-hood because he knowingly elevates himself above the rest of his family while insulting them as well.

Dr. Foss next wanted us to choose between discussing Jason in terms of racism or misogyny and the implications of either associated when intersecting with disability.  My group chose the latter.  To do so, we looked at how Jason treated his mother.  All though Jason is his mother’s favorite, he treats her very poorly throughout his narration.  He refers to her as an invalid and complains multiple times about being surrounded by “invalids, idiots, and niggers”.  We likened Mrs. Compson to the woman in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.”  Both women are controlled by a man and struggling with disability.  The woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is trapped, not only by her husband, but by her location which eventually heightens her mental instability until she tears down all the yellow wallpaper in the room she is in.  Mrs. Compson, is controlled by Jason, who tells her how she should treat Quentin and is also bedridden frequently.  As far as linking Mrs. Compson with disability, a member of my group suggested that Mrs. Compson still might be in mourning for the loss of her husband, a condition that might lend itself to an unstable mental condition.  Dr. Foss announced that we had one more minute to discuss, so my group quickly recognized that both these cases inherently and negatively ascribe disability to women.

The class reconvened for the remainder of the time to go over our small group work.  Dr. Foss asks us if we thought that Jason should be viewed through the lens of disability and there was a resounding “no!” cried in unison.  A class member voiced their opinion saying that if we applied disability to Jason it would merely be an excuse for his terrible behavior and attitude.  It was decided that Jason was dysfunctional, but not disabled.  Two interesting points were brought up at the very end of class.  One was that Jason may have the potential for disability if he keeps isolating himself from his family.  The other was that a narcissistic personality disorder does exist that might be applicable to Jason.  Class ended with Dr. Foss promising rehashing next class to discuss the intersection of disability with Jason’s racism and misogyny before moving onto the final section of Faulkner’s novel.

Word count: 999

Written by Susan

October 22nd, 2010 at 11:41 am

Robert’s Formal Blog Post on William Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury” – April 8, 1928

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The gown fell gauntly from her shoulders, across her fallen breasts, then tightened upon her paunch and fell again, ballooning a little above the nether garments which she would remove layer by layer as the spring accomplished and the warm days, in color regal and moribund. She had been a big woman once but now her skeleton rose, draped loosely in unpadded skin that tightened again upon a paunch almost dropsical, as though muscle and tissue had been courage or fortitude which the days or the years had consumed until only the indomitable skeleton was left rising like a ruin or a landmark above the somnolent and impervious guts, and above that the collapsed face that gave the impression of the bones themselves being outside the flesh, lifted into the driving day with an expression at once fatalistic and of a child’s astonished disappointment, until she turned and entered the house again and closed the door.

– April 8, 1928

“I aint gwine let him,” Dilsey says. “Don’t you worry, honey.” She held to my arm. Then the belt came out and I jerked loose and flung her away. She stumbled into the table. She was so old she couldn’t do any more than move hardly. But that’s all right: we need somebody in the kitchen to eat up the grub the young ones can’t tote off. She came hobbling between us, trying to hold me again. “Hit me, den,” she says, “ef nothin else but hittin somebody won’t do you. Hit me,” she says.  “You think I won’t?” I says. “I don’t put no devilment beyond you,” she says. Then I heard Mother on the stairs. I might have known she wasn’t going to keep out of it. I let go. She stumbled back against the wall, holding her kimono shut.  “All right,” I says. “We’ll just put this off a while. But don’t think you can run it over me. I’m not an old woman, nor an old half dead nigger, either. You dam little slut,” I says.

-April 6, 1928

Dilsey, matriarch of the Gibson family and caretaker of the Compson family, provides an interesting opportunity to analyze age, race, and disability in The Sound and the Fury. In the work’s final section, April 8, 1928, we read Dilsey’s perspective of the Compson family’s final disintegration. Unlike the previous three sections, though, Dilsey does not narrate directly to us in first person. The section is in third person; this indirect focus on Dilsey accomplishes several things. For one, it disempowers her; the previous three narrators were white and were given the opportunity to narrate, even though the first, Benjy, was mentally disabled. Dilsey is black, old, poor, and a woman; these three things combine to create a pseudo-disability for her. This indirect narration also creates a mystique around Dilsey. As a black woman and servant, her opinions have little social value; however, Dilsey’s opinions are somewhat prophetic, at least to readers.

Working for the Compsons, caring for Benjy, putting up with Caroline’s hypochondriacally inspired “spells,” and keeping up the Compson home have all taken their toll on Dilsey. She “had been a big woman once” but time has consumed her muscles, which were also her “courage and fortitude.” Here is an interesting association between physical strength and inner fortitude. The Compson family’s problems have devoured both Dilsey’s physical and inner power. Faulkner is implying here that the strength of a person’s character is related to their physical strength.

Jason, in the previous April 6 section, dismisses Dilsey as an “old half dead nigger” who “couldn’t do any more than move hardly.” To Jason and most of the family, Dilsey is simply a tool, a prosthetic device used to oil their squeaky wheels (Benjy, Caroline, and Miss Quentin), to soothe Benjy’s tantrums, and maintain the shrinking house’s beauty and power. Already disempowered, maybe even disabled, by her race and gender, Dilsey’s increasing age and decreasing physical strength are further disempowering her. For Dilsey, now “only the indomitable skeleton was left rising like a ruin or a landmark above the somnolent and impervious guts.”

These guts, however, do give Dilsey some power. This power is primarily literary and not literal; instead of influencing the other characters, Dilsey influences us, the readers, with her opinions. As an “other” many times over – in race, gender, class, age, etc. – Dilsey is somewhat odd. In the opening of the April 8 section, Faulkner describes her wearing “nether garments which she would remove layer by layer as the spring accomplished and the warm days, in color regal and moribund.”  Because she is such a unique other, when Dilsey speaks up, we find prophetic power in her words. For example, when Jason threatens Quentin with a whipping, Dilsey intervenes. Though Quentin has done wrong, Jason’s punishment is entirely out of line. Dilsey, powerless and feeble and disempowered as she is, comes to Quentin’s defense and tries to stop Jason. She tells Jason to hit her instead. Jason says, “You think I won’t?” Dilsey replies, “I don’t put no devilment beyond you.” Here is a good example of how Faulkner’s uses Dilsey’s disempowered status as a multiple “other” as a prophetic literary device. Dilsey condemns Jason’s character early on in this section; upon further reading, we find that Dilsey’s statement if quite justified.

Dilsey is used by the Compson family and Faulkner as a prosthetic crutch. The Compsons use her physical strength to care for their disabled family members, their crumbling power, and their shrinking estate. They give Dilsey little credit, especially when her disempowered status as a black woman is furthered by her increasing age and frailty. Faulkner capitalizes on this, too. Dilsey is an “other” in many different categories many times over; her numerous “other” labels almost outnumber her numerous undergarments. These multiple categories of “otherness,” combined with Dilsey’s appearance, give Dilsey’s words, at least, a little power.

Written by Robert

October 20th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Sarah Smethurst’s Class Summary for October 15

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Deciphering Faulkner: Class Summary Essay

The Sound and the Fury: June 2, 1910

Class began with that ever-treasured opportunity—extra credit. After discussing the opportunity and the details of the hypertext edition specific to this section, we jumped right in. After a discussion of Benjy’s use as a narrative prosthesis, we discussed Quentin’s section, finding several points we could agree on. Faulkner lets us into Quentin’s head and uses the pioneering (and frustrating) stream of consciousness style to give us insight into a mentally disabled brain that we lack in the more obviously disabled Benjy’s narrative. We see his failed life, his confused sexuality, and his complicated and possibly fictionalized relationships in much sharper focus than the well-meaning but unreadable Benjy’s reading of events.

Because Benjy’s beginning narrative is so crucial to the rest of The Sound and the Fury, we spent the first part of class (re)iterating our small group discussion of the previous class. Dr. Foss (re)presented the question of whether Faulkner cares about Benjy as more than a narrative device, and whether he is a sympathetic character or simply a perpetuation of a derogatory stereotype. Despite protestations that devoting much space, especially prime opening chapter space, to a disabled character was an act of service, we were forced to consider that the time was spent (re)inforcing a stereotype. The fact remains that Benjy does little to make himself a sympathetic character—we get a lot of characterization and events through him, but little emotional language or an experiential lens at all. He doesn’t have much of his own voice, and instead speaks through others’ dialogue, despite the section being technically grounded in his consciousness. Besides all that, there are major doubts as to the accuracy of Benjy’s disability, which can be infantilizing and extremely limiting.

Finally, we reached the topical portion of the class—small group discussion on the next section of the book, as narrated by Quentin. Dr. Foss presented to us several questions about how we read Quentin’s character and possible disability (and how that comments on Benjy’s disability), how to explain the narrative (switches in style of stream of consciousness), and the roles of other characters in his life. As usual, my group didn’t manage to get to most of the questions, but we covered what we could.

First, we deviated long enough to discuss the parentage of Ms. Quentin (is she Quentin’s child? is that possible?). This theme of possible incest would show up in later classes, and appears to be an unusual textual fixation of my group. We then discussed whether or not Quentin was disabled himself, conjecturing that though he may “pass” in society as sane, he had many mental and emotional disabilities of his own. We pointed to the past issues and traumas in his life, and also to the imagery and symbolism in the section (the use of clocks and fixations on time). Quentin has obsessions and fixations that are debilitating, not to mention the clear anxiety, depression, and (planned) suicide.

Despite the common disability (though in different forms), we found many differences between Quentin and Benjy. Their perceptions of the world are different—Benjy’s is neutral or even removed, and Quentin has an overwhelmingly negative perspective. The stream of consciousness style gets ever stranger when Quentin is the narrator, and we covered the differences and similarities in style., especially the mid-sentence time and scene changes present in Quentin’s text. We also discussed how Benjy merely observes the outside world around him, placing no filters or biases on the action, while Quentin takes it all in and combines it with his own emotion. Thus, he is susceptible to what others think about him and is sensitive to teasing, especially about his sexual orientation.

We could draw little conclusions about Quentin’s sexuality from the text. It was unclear whether certain comments meant that Quentin was really gay, or whether he was simply representing or internalizing the teasing of classmates and others around him. We also questioned the reliability of Quentin as a narrator, proposing that it was possible and even probable for him to lie in his section, whether intentionally or not. It made us doubt the crucial section regarding Caddy as we looked for meaning in Quentin’s obsession with her. We divined that whether they really had sex or not did not matter as much as the fact that Quentin believes that they did. Most of his interactions with Caddy could conceivably be a figment of his altered imagination, but so long as he believes they occurred, they have a huge impact on his life and mental health. We would have delved much deeper into this topic but Dr. Foss ended class at this point. Perhaps we should have saved the incest discussion and devoted more time to the loaded relationship between Caddy and Quentin.

Benjy may or may not be a sympathetic figure, but the mind that we really get into in The Sound and the Fury is Quentin’s. Although Quentin is a supposed to be a more normal narrator, he suffers from a disability that rivals Benjy’s, which affects his interpersonal relationships, his sexuality, and the unique voice in the section entitled “June 2, 1910.” The last comment of class was a question highly relevant to this issue and posed by Dr. Foss—who, in this text, is the Sound, and who is the Fury? He suggests that it is Benjy who provides the Sound, and Quentin who fully supplies all the Fury the text needs.

919 words

Written by sarahsmile

October 20th, 2010 at 3:24 am

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

Andrew’s Formal Blog Post on William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury: October 18, 2010

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“…you can send Ben to the Navy I says or to the cavalry anyway, they use geldings in the cavalry. Then when she sent Quentin home for me to feed too I says I guess that’s right too, instead of me having to go way up north for a job they sent the job down here to me and then Mother begun to cry and I says it’s not that I have any objection to having it here; if it’s any satisfaction to you I’ll quit work and nurse it myself and let you and Dilsey keep the flour barrel full, or Ben. Rent him out to a sideshow; there must be folks somewhere that would pay a dime to see him, then she cried more and kept saying my poor afflicted baby and I says yes he’ll be quite a help to you when he gets his growth not being more than one and a half times as high as me now…”

In this passage from Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Benjamin is described in three distinct ways: as an animal, as a freak show and as a baby. Jason’s anger towards Benjamin is focused both on Ben being an “other,” as well as Ben’s inability to make money to support his ventures.  Interestingly, Jason’s description of Ben focuses more on the physical body rather than trying to describe Ben’s cognitive impairment.

Jason first suggests similarities between Ben and a horse, showing that he thinks of Ben as a big, dumb animal. Describing Ben as a “gelding,” confirms Ben’s castration, which was suggested in a previous section, as well as takes away Benjamin’s masculinity.  Taking away Ben’s sex puts him on at a disadvantage in Jason’s eyes because he is no longer a man.  It adds to the dehumanization, portraying him to be closer to animal than a human.

Jason also suggests that Ben could be put to work as a “sideshow,” showing that he would not mind Ben as much if he could at least bring home money or “keep the flour barrel full”.  Portraying Ben as a carnival act not only suggests he is an “other,” who is physically impaired from Jason’s point of view, but also suggests that Ben is stigmatized by the rest of society as well.

The third description comes at the hand of Mrs. Compson, who calls Benjamin her “poor afflicted baby.” Mrs. Compson still sees Benjamin as a baby because he has not developed past that age like with the rest of her children. The “poor afflicted” description draws similarities to Dicken’s Tiny Tim, in that we are supposed to find it endearing, but this is not the case because throughout the story it does not stick, as everyone can see that Ben is a grown man. This latter view is shared by Jason, who calls Benjamin “Ben,” rather than the infantilized version “Benjy.”

Although Jason’s descriptions of Ben focus on physical impairment, what he really means to describe is Benjamin’s mental impairment. Jason is forced to lump Ben into an “other,” dehumanized group, shared by animals and carnival acts, because he is unable to grapple with the fact that his brother looks like an adult, but is mentally impaired.

“…you can send Ben to the Navy I says or to the cavalry anyway, they use geldings in the cavalry. Then when she sent Quentin home for me to feed too I says I guess that’s right too, instead of me having to go way up north for a job they sent the job down here to me and then Mother begun to cry and I says it’s not that I have any objection to having it here; if it’s any satisfaction to you I’ll quit work and nurse it myself and let you and Dilsey keep the flour barrel full, or Ben. Rent him out to a sideshow; there must be folks somewhere that would pay a dime to see him, then she cried more and kept saying my poor afflicted baby and I says yes he’ll be quite a help to you when he gets his growth not being more than one and a half times as high as me now…”

Written by aallingh

October 18th, 2010 at 11:08 am

Samuel Beardslee’s Formal Blog Post on William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury: April 6th, 1928

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“I says. “If you want me to control her, just say so and keep your hands off. Everytime I try to, you come butting in and then she gives both of us the laugh.”
“Remember she’s your own flesh and blood,” she says.
“Sure,” I says, “that’s just what I’m thinking of–flesh. And a little blood too, if I had my way. When people act like niggers, no matter who they are the only thing to do is treat them like a nigger.””

I’ve done what I could.[…] If it was my own daughter now it would be different, because she wouldn’t have time to; she’d have to work some to feed a few invalids and idiots and niggers, because how could I have the face to bring anybody there. I’ve too much respect for anybody to do that. I’m a man, I can stand it, it’s my own flesh and blood[…]and she says I want you to be happy to have a family of your own not to slave your life away for us. But I’ll be gone soon and then you can take a wife but you’ll never find a woman who is worthy of you and I says yes I could.[…] I says no thank you I have all the women I can take care of now if I married a wife she’d probably turn out to be a hophead or something. That’s all we lack in this family, I says.”

“Then she says, “I’ll be gone soon. I know I’m just a burden to you” and I says “You’ve been saying that so long that I’m beginning to believe you” […]I have as much pride about my kinfolks as anybody even if I dont always know where they come from.”

Out of all the narratives in The Sound and the Fury, Jason’s is the most clear, at least that is how it is presented at first.  Reading through the entire narrative, one finds that Jason contradicts himself more often than not, alluding to the frustration he has taking care of the household where he is “the most normal.”  However, this frustration is hardly warranted, and serves to show Jason as the worst human being shown so far in this novel.   The passages above highlight just a couple examples of his thoughts.

Jason mentions several times in his narrative about “flesh and blood”, though the above passage is the only time in which he says it himself.  His mother means it in relation to Quinten as a member of the family, usually.  However, given the attitude he has to the members of his family, perhaps he means this a little differently.  As the most able-bodied person of the house (aside from the young Quinten left in his care), Jason is put in a position where he must “work some to feed a few invalids and idiots and niggers.”  Perhaps he is saying that if he had a daughter, she would be a sane, upstanding woman of the house and care for the family as well, taking some of the weight off his shoulders.  Oddly enough, he finds the idea of a wife stupid, preventing this event from ever possibly occurring anyway.  Jason has classified the rest of his family as “useless”, and takes the stance that his life would be better without them.  Jason advocates sending Benji away, uses Quinten’s support money for his own purposes, and sees his Mother as a burden.  Quinten’s case is peculiar, as she, perhaps due her invalid parentage, but definitely due to her behavior (probably caused by Jason’s sadistic nature), is now grouped with the rest of the family.  Jason may be holding her as a reminder of, what was in his mind, Caddy’s betrayal (the divorce that lost him his job at the bank), and fueling his hatred.

Another interesting point brought up in these passages is Jason’s treatment of the “slaves” of the family, the Gibson’s.  He puts them in the same group as the invalids and idiots, and places Quinten, with his comparison of her to “the niggers”, in this group as well.  The pride of the family is also mentioned frequently (as above), and Jason, having effectively separating himself  from his entire family because of their shameful nature (save, perhaps, his mother, though this is doubtful), is tasked with upholding his lofty family name.  His pride prevents him from asking for any real help, and, “Having done what he could” resorts to prostitutes for pleasure and the stock market and other schemes to gain “respect” (for himself) through some wealth, only to have that fail as well.

Of all the characters through these Narratives so far, Jason is the least pitiable.  His Pride mutes him, his hatred blinds him, and his schemes serve only to cripple him and his family.  Jerk.

Written by Spyden

October 18th, 2010 at 10:13 am

Katherine Sullivan’s Formal Post on William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury: June Second, 1910

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In this story, the lives of two brothers are shaped by one unstoppable force: time.  When analyzed with the first section of The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928) the second section brings many underlying themes to the clear vision of the reader. The Sound and the Fury: June Second, 1910 is narrated by Benjy’s older brother, Quentin.  A thorough analysis of the two brothers (and their accompanying texts) will reveal that they are surprisingly similar in their perceptions of the world and their obsessions.

June Second, 1910 opens with Quentin in his bed at Harvard, keenly listening to the ticking of the watch his father gave him, trying to divine the exact time without looking at the watch’s face.  This anxious obsession with time serves as a defining characteristic of Quentin throughout the section in which he narrates.  The reader experiences his world through the acute, measured passage of time as he frequently reassures himself that it is “quarter past,” “half past,” or “quarter ‘til,” even when he is unsure of the numerical hour itself.  Through this section, we learn that Quentin’s obsession with time has always been part of how he perceives the world, even counting the seconds and minutes in school until the bell would ring.  In my interpretation of the second section, Quentin’s obsession with time shows his intense desire to control some significant force in his life to oppose his father’s demanding decisions and his restrictive familial obligations.

Like Quentin, Benjy is also obsessed with the passage of time, not necessarily in the exact, scientific manner of his brother, but in much more relative terms.  When compared to the second section, Benjy’s narration is punctuated with instances of fascination with the passage of time, not his brother’s controlling, anxious approach.  Benjy perceives the world as a series of objects being either present or absent. In my interpretation, this is how he measures time. This can be seen in how Benjy remembers eating soup in the kitchen, as a repetitive series of the bottom of the bowl either being visible or not. In this scene, he does not focus on the conversation around him, or the actions of the other characters, he only focuses on time ticking away by the absence or presence of objects.  This event is not unique in Benjy’s section, as he perceives many situations in this way.

In this intertextual reading of the first and second sections of The Sound and the Fury, it can be seen that both brothers measure the events and memories in their lives by the passage of time, be it free-form and visually-based in the case of Benjy, or regulated and numerical in the case of Quentin.

Written by Katherine Sullivan

October 15th, 2010 at 9:56 am