The Sound and the Fury: Notes

The Sound and the Fury: Notes

The Sound and the Fury: Notes

The Sound and the Fury: Notes



  • Life and Background of the Author
  • Introduction to the Novel
  • List of Characters
  • Critical Commentaries
  • Character Analyses
  • Critical Essays
  • Essay Topics and Review Questions
  • Selected Bibliography

  • Excerpt

    Page numbers refer to the Vintage International “corrected text” paperback edition of The Sound and the Fury, published by Random House. Scene numbers are supplied for convenient cross-referencing.

    The benjy section

    P. 3, Scene 1 (1928) Through the fence …

    As indicated by the heading, this section is set in the present time, April 7, 1928, which is the Saturday before Easter Sunday. (Faulkner was very careful to make the date coincide with the actual date of Easter in that particular year.) Throughout this section, the dating is easy since each scene is identified by the presence of Luster as Benjy’s attendant and by Luster’s searching for a lost quarter as they wander about the Compson premises.

    In the appendix to Malcolm Cowley’s The Portable Faulkner and also in the Norton critical edition of the novel, Faulkner wrote that Luster was fourteen years old and that Luster was capable of handling an idiot who was twice his age. Since Benjy is thirty-three on this day, Luster would have had to be sixteen or seventeen. Furthermore, internal evidence in the section indicates that Luster would have to be more than fourteen because in another scene (Scene 7), which occurs in April 1913, Luster is already born and is playing with baby Quentin, Caddy’s daughter. We must therefore assume that Faulkner was in error in assigning Luster’s age as fourteen. After all, he wrote the appendix approximately sixteen years later without rereading the novel (see Malcolm Cowley, The Faulkner-Cowley File), and the appendix should be viewed, at least partly, as a separate artistic creation because there are several other troublesome inconsistencies between it and the text.

    As noted above, the date, April 7, 1928, is also Benjy’s thirty-third birthday. All of these facts have a certain symbolic importance. April, as a month, is symbolic of growth and also decay, of life and also death. It is the month in which Christ was crucified, and the Saturday between the Friday of Crucifixion and the Sunday of Resurrection is, by tradition, one of the figuratively darkest days in the history of Christianity. April is also the month when all things begin growing again--the beginning of the cycle of life. Thus, Benjy is placed in the midst of greenness and fertility of April, and his moaning becomes the hopelessness of all the voiceless misery represented by the death of Christ. the flowers that Benjy loves are a contrast to the ugliness of his own appearance. in this month of rebirth, however, Benjy is conscious only of death--many of the things he remembers are associated with funerals and with deaths. Critics have often characterized Benjy as a Christ figure because he is thirty-three years old, the age of Christ when He was crucified. Benjy has been castrated, which implies that the modern Christ is impotent against all the evil present in the modern world. Benjy also suffers as Christ did, but Benjy’s suffering is to no avail. He cannot intervene, as did Christ, because he is, Faulkner says, an idiot. the implication through all these Christ images is that the Christ figure in the modern world is reduced to an impotent . . .

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