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What does Quentin mean with the response "temporary" in the last part of his...

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edith02117 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 3, 2010 at 12:48 AM via web

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What does Quentin mean with the response "temporary" in the last part of his section?  I can't understand him using this word to respond.

 In the last imagined talk between Quentin and his father, Quentin repeatly uses "tempory" , Why?

you are not thinking of finitude you are contemplating an apotheosis ...and i temporary and he you cannot bear to think that someday it will no longer hurt you like this now were getting at it you seem to regard it merely as an experience that will whiten your hair overnight so to speak without altering your appearance at all you wont do it under these conditions it will be a gamble and the strange thing is that man who is conceived by accident and whose every breath is a fresh cast with dice already loaded against him will not face that final main which he knows before hand he has assuredly to face without essaying expedients ranging all the way from violence to petty chicanery that would not deceive a child until someday in very disgust he risks everything on a single blind turn of a card...he does it only when he has realised that even the despair or remorse or bereavement is not particularly important to the dark diceman and i temporary ...you will remember that for you to go to harvard has been your mothers dream since you were born and no compson has ever disappointed a lady and i temporary it will be better for me for all of us and he every man is the arbiter of his own virtues but let no man prescribe for another mans wellbeing and i temporary and he was the saddest word of all there is nothing else in the world its not despair until time its not even time until it was

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 3, 2010 at 5:28 PM (Answer #1)

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There are several approaches that can be taken with this particular idea.  It's a challenge to parse the meaning of the work through the use of one word and it should be noted that the use of language should be seen in the larger context and not attempted to make sense outside of it.  The idea of "temporary" might be something we can use to see Quentin.  If we examine the use of the term in light of the Compson family and Quentin himself, there can be much in way of appropriate use of the term.  The exterior of success, being the eldest, being at Harvard, and being the one that might "have it together," is a temporary facade.  Additionally, the notion of pain might be something where temporal conditions apply.  On one hand, Quentin has trouble reconciling whether or not his incestuous feelings for Caddy are temporary.  If they are, then they might not seem valid expressions, and if they are not, then they come into direct conflict with social expectations.  The more valid they are and thereby less temporary, the worse the impact.  In regards to the pain experienced about the family's dishonor with Caddy's "fall from grace" as well as the notion of honorable ideals changing in a new setting of modernity (thereby being "temporary"), Quentin experiences this in the present.  Yet, similar to his feelings about Caddy, if these are "temporary," then the experience of pain is not valid.  At the same time, if the pain is not "temporary," then its inescapable nature is excruciating to bear.   Perhaps, these ideas are the reason for the use and repetition of the term.  Additionally, the idea of time and its use in terms of the style of the writing in the novel might be a part of this.  There is much which seems to be both temporary and permanent.  Benjy's conception of time is one where events are posited in what makes sense to him, but lies outside the full grasp of others.  With Quentin and his watch that he sets to perfect time before he commits suicide, the notion of what is temporary and permanent becomes blurred in his own mind.

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