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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