Saturday, October 21, 2006

JUAN E., On Faulkner's 'The Sound and the Fury'

Essay on The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner
“If I could say it in so many words, do you think I
should take the very great trouble of dancing it?”

William Faulkner

The absence of a section narrated by Caddy is explained only by an artistic decision of the author. Each part of the book has a particular function in the global narration, which describes a portrait of the fall of the Compson family, illustrated in the book with Caddy’s story, maybe the focus of the conflict and the axis the tragedy rotates around.
Benjy’s section is, of course, the most difficult to understand, and through a first reading the only thing we can get from it is a very general impression of the story as a whole. However, we recognize his passionate but still tender devotion to Caddy. This is not too far away from what happens with Quentin, even though his reaction to events (and therefore, we could say Caddy’s influence upon him also) is dramatically different due to the pressure over him and his obsession with his sister. Possibly, the purpose of the second part is to show us the result of Caddy’s behaviour over Quentin’s character.
Jason has, evidently, a completely different position. Even though he ends up being the head of a run-downed family, disintegrated and with almost no signs left of tradition, we see Quentin (Caddy’s daughter) symbolizing the remains and consequence of Caddy’s effect on the flow of events. There is still conflict inside the family, and Quentin is the main source of disorder against Jason’s control.
Knowing that Caddy is (if we had to name one) the main character of the story, and considering that there is a section narrated by each of her siblings, we may find Faulkner’s decision of not giving her a voice strange at first . We must admit, however, that the different narrators and ways of experiencing the decline we have explained are not there just to inform us about the story, but to show us the complexity of Caddy’s character and the fall of the family. Reading the four sections several times gives the reader different impressions each time, and I think here is where the beauty of the book is held. It is not a question of telling the story of a girl whose growth triggered the disintegration of a family; the process of building the story from such varied points of view (with the technical excellence with which these are written) contributes to a book in which impressions can be more important than just knowing what is going on. We could say that if the author had decided to include a section narrated by Caddy, the whole book would be reduced to a first person retelling a story, decorated by additional narrations that would not be as efficient as they actually are.

Juan E.(FCE level)
The texts published here have been written by secondary school students from "Colegio Paideia" (Buenos Aires, Argentina). They have been uploaded without the teacher's corrections.

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