William Faulkner is one of my favourite authors in American literature to read. Whenever I read his books, I always think that I should not only enjoy it but also make a great effort to understand him. The biggest reason I get this idea is that Faulkner uses a difficult language and stream of consciousness technique. I think the most crucial feature that distinguishes the author from his contemporaries is that he concentrates on complicated plots and uses language in this way. It is challenging to summarise the book and talk about its subject.
The book is about the Compson family living in Mississippi and consists of 4 chapters. One of the Compson brothers, Benjy, who has a mental disability, narrates the first episode. I can say that I have difficulty understanding this chapter clearly. Since there is no concept of time for Benjy, he explains whatever comes to mind, especially by stumbling with the past. For those who are just starting to read the book, I should point out that while reading this chapter, do not give up thinking that you do not understand anything.
When you finish it, you will understand the first chapter. This episode is based on Benjy’s obsession with his sister Caddy. The continually repeating sentence, “Caddy smelled like trees” in other words “Caddy smells like trees” was the part that affected me the most in this episode. Because of Benjy’s mental disability, no one in his family is interested in him, except Caddy.
I think that’s why Benjy sees Caddy as a mother figure and feels deeply attached to her. Quentin narrates the second part, one of the Compson brothers, who has psychological problems. In this episode, the focus is again on Caddy. Also, the concept of time plays a vital role in this section and encourages the reader to think about it. I must point out that in the book, we encounter two different Quentins. Quentin, who appears towards the end of the book, is Caddy’s illegitimate girl. Of course, this is just one of the factors that make the book difficult to understand. Jason Compson narrates the third part. This section is quite fluent and understandable if you compare to the first two sections. The author narrates the last part and focuses more on Dilsey, the black maid of the Compson family.
Although such an essential character in the book, Caddy does not have a chapter to tell. Not including any female narrators was a crucial point in understanding the place of women in America. Witnessing the break up of the Compson family and feeling the loneliness of Caddy was harsh. And trying to understand Benjy, who was a punishment for the sins of his mother, was a completely different experience. The Sound and the Fury, one of the most impressive books I’ve read in my life, is my advice to all readers who want to discover Faulkner’s genius.
The Sound and the Fury
Ever since the first furore was created on its publication in 1929, The Sound and the Fury has been considered one of the key novels of this century. Depicting the gradual disintegration of the Compson family through four fractured narratives, the novel explores so intense, passionate family relationships where there is no love, only self-centredness. At its heart, this is a novel about lovelessness – ‘only an idiot has no grief; only a fool would forget it.
What else is there in this world sharp enough to stick to your guts?’
William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American writer and so Nobel Prize laureate from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner wrote novels, short stories, screenplays, poetry, essays, and so a play.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: