Sunday, October 22, 2006

VICTORIA A.,On Faulkner's 'The Sound and the Fury'

Essay on The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner

Throughout the whole novel, in the speech of all the narrators (Benjy, Jason, Quentin and the last one supposed to be Dilsey) the focus of the retelling is located on Caddy.
Each brother has a different view about Caddy and most of all about her sexuality. Caddy is the one that, while living in the family house, takes most care of Benjy, and whose absence - caused by her sleeping with a man and having to get married - fills his adult life with a sense of loss. In the present (1928), time when Caddy no longer lives with them, Benjy is constantly remembered about her and the time they spent together, these memories are waken up by smells and words like “golf caddie” that make him think about his sister. Benjy relates with his reality, which has no sense of time, and presents its better times in the past, through sensibility. The memories that Benjy recalls the most are his grandmother’s funeral and Caddy's wedding, both related to the lost of tradition. The first one, because of Damuddy being the oldest member of the family, and the second one because of being caused by Caddy’s lost of virginity and pregnancy before marriage.
To Quentin, Caddy's sexuality goes against every principle and habit that represent the southern family tradition and honor. Quentin prefers telling his father Caddy and him had committed incest, than confessing she has lost her virginity with a man. Although, this does not talk about a real desire of sleeping with his sister; he really wants to turn the situation into a much more horrible thing as incest, to make the real happening no as terrible, so as not to be so harmed about Caddy having slept with another man.
Both this first characters are deeply concerned about their sister’s sexuality, and this is shown in the episode narrated by Benjy when Caddy wets and moods her dress in the water of the branch, and then takes off her dress; this makes Quentin mad and slap her. This angry and embarrassed reaction to taking off her dress here reveals the jealous protectiveness he feels for her sexuality. Benjy, too, is traumatized by the muddying of Caddy's dress: "Caddy was all wet and muddy behind, and I started to cry and she came and squatted in the water", just as he is going to be traumatized later on when Caddy looses her virginity and leaves. And these to happenings are both signs of sexuality and rupture of tradition.
Jason hates Caddy, she should have gotten him a job, but getting pregnant and having to get married and leave the family house ruined Jason’s plans. Jason doesn’t talk much about Caddy, for her name is refused to be mention for having betrayed family tradition. Many years have passed since Caddy left and lost him his job opportunity, and yet he remains as angry with her as he ever was. The obsession Jason has with Caddy is more related to money than to sexuality as it is present in the other brothers, but Caddy’s daughter, who has inherited her personality and role in the family, is the character that most obsesses Jason, and her role in Jason’s speech is the one related with sexuality and the lost of tradition. He is in charge of her, and she is the one that runs away with a man, and Jason is always accusing of being a bitch.
On the whole, it can be said that the novel revolves around the absent center of Caddy and her story, all of the brothers, Benjy, Quentin and Jason, have the figure of their sister constantly present, and haunting them. Memories and thoughts about her are constantly appearing in the three of the speeches; and their decisions and acts are dependent of how they feel about Caddy.
Most of the memories Quentin relates in the chapter narrated by this character are centered on Caddy and her precocious sexuality. He is also disturbed about time and lost of tradition, this being shown in the first episode retold when he breaks the watch his father had given to him and that had belong to his grandfather, so as not to hear the pass of time. And is also obsessed with Dalton Ames, who is the one that slept with Caddy, and he has a strong purpose of beating him up.
The last chapter is narrated in third person, but it can be said to be narrated by Dilsey. She is a sort of witness in the story of the Compson family, and it works as a sort of balance to understand the story and the characters, which are the first three narrators, because the rest of the story is deeply conditioned by subjectivity and disorder.
Probably the reason that Caddy hasn’t got a voice is that she, in the way in which is described, does not present a conflict with the lost of tradition. In fact, she shows a desire to break with the south family tradition. She is the one that has sex with a man before getting married, and the one that wishes to leave her family house, behavior that is also present in her daughter. The argument and story appears when her actions get in conflict and disturb the other characters (Benjy, Quentin and Jason). The three of them are damaged by Caddy’s lost of virginity and her decision of leaving the family house. Caddy is the principal point of the story, and the whole argument revolves around her. This is why she can’t have a voice, for her narration wouldn’t present any conflict, and it would weaken the speech of the other narrators, in which the character of Caddy is discussed and put in dispute.

Victoria A.
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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