William Faulkner was an author well known for his not so optimistic novels. "The Sound and the Fury" is a novel in which the intellectual, moral and emotional falling apart of the world is shown. Faulkner uses his characters to describe the 20th century society.
The novel begins with the fall of an aristocratic family and the further fall after the death of an alcoholic father. Before his death he left his family in debts.
In the novel the reader can feel the difficult times and lack of optimism and the reign of immoral behavior. The characters' negative personality is pointed out so much that it seems they carry nothing good inside of them.
In the novel we have a specific kind of storytelling where the author first states out the unclear history of the Compson family through the conscious of the mentally disabled Benjy. Despite his 33 years he is on an intellectual level of a 3 year old because of which his inner monologue is shown in a series of pictures that his conscious receives with no possible way of coming to a conclusion.
Next to Benjy we can also follow up with the psychically deranged brother Quentin that commits suicide because of lack of moral, the complicated life of sister Caddy and brother Jason who is cold and calculated and gives the family one last kick to the bottom. Another storyteller is Dilsey, the maid. She is a rational person that observes events from the side and she is the know-it-all storyteller. There are four storytellers: Benjy, Quentin, Jason and Dilsey.
The novel begins with the narration about the father of the family Compson, Jason III., a lawyer that dies of alcoholism consequences after wrecking the family estate leaving the family in debts and unsolved issues. Mother Carolina is preoccupied with self pity and she is completely incapable of taking care of her family. The family relations were never ideal so Benjy and Quentin loved their sister Cadance but Jason and Caddy couldn't stand each other.
A description with no particular order comes along in which we see reminiscence of the childhood and the moments they've spend together and the hostility between Jason and Caddy that become unbearable. Jason started showing hatred towards other family members as well.
The time has come for Quentin to go to a university so the family decides to sell the family meadow that was left to Benjy. He adored his sister Caddy and couldn't bear to lose her attention. Caddy was described as a superficial, girl neglected from her mother's love that started to throw herself at different men while she was still young.
She embarrassed the family when she decided to give herself to Dalton Ames and then with her marriage out of interest to Sidney Herbert Head. The marriage was a cover up for her pregnancy. Her daughter Quentina became a victim of her mother's behavior and Jason's materialism.
After Caddy showed she had no moral Quentin committed suicide. He drowned himself in Cambridge where he studied. He was overly burdened with the lack of family moral when he decided to take his sister's incest upon him even though she never actually committed it.
Jason was more like his mother, described as a materialist, a calculated and bad person who hated all of his family members. He didn't love Quentin because he went to the university instead of him. He didn't love Caddy because due to her divorce he lost his job at the bank and Benjy because he was completely useless. After Quentin's death Jason gets a job at a store and becomes the head of the family.
With his actions he destroyed his family. He raised Quentina in poverty and took away the money her mother would send her which resulted in Quentina's runaway. When mother Carolina died Jason placed Benjy in a mental institution, got rid of the help, stayed alone with no descendants and finished the future of the Compson family.
Time: 20th century
Place: made up town Jefferson in Mississippi
Characters: Benjy, Herbert Head, Dalton Ames, Quentin I., Jason IV., mother Carolina, Dilsey
Benjy – 33 years old, mentally disabled member of the Compson family. He was on the level of a three years old and wasn't capable to make conclusion. He loved his sister Caddy deeply and the author states outthe events through his character first.
Quentin I. – extremely sensible it is on the verge of illness. He was the oldest and he took the family's falling apart hard and the worst part was his sister Caddy's lack of moral. He had a sort of Hamlet attitude and a strong moral so he felt he had to sacrifice for his family. In the end he committed suicide because he couldn't take the defeat of the family honor anymore. He decided that will be his redemption for the family sins.
Jason IV. – evil, cold, pragmatic and unscrupulous. He watched calmly his family's destruction and he didn't care at all. The only thing he had on his mind was fighting for the money. He had no emotions or moral. Also Caddy and him couldn't stand each other. He finished the family and was left alone.
Caddy – superficial with no sense for her duties towards her family. She did things her way. She had a good relationship with Benjy and Quentin while she was in a constant confrontation with Jason. She never had a chance to enjoy her mother's love so at an early age she started to live alone with her problems. She got into many love relationships and enjoyed flirting with young men. She got pregnant with Dalton Ames and to cover up the pregnancy she married the primitive Sidney Herbert Head.
Dilsey – the family's maid. She is the observer of events and she gives her opinion about them.