The final scenes of The Sound and the Fury are related by an omniscient narrator. If the whole book had been structured the same way, the novel might be less challenging—and less interesting. Instead, readers must contend with three unreliable narrators in the novel's first three sections: Benjy, an idiot; Quentin, a suicide; and Jason, superficially sane but vicious and heartless. All three narrations feature interior monologues, which, according to literary scholar Robert Humphrey, represent the psychic content and processes of character partly or entirely unuttered, just as these processes exist at various levels of conscious control. Even Jason, who prides himself on dwelling in the "here and now," goes from present to past in his thoughts. He has an extended flashback, or memory of several past scenes, as he opens mail at work. He remembers both his father's funeral and his dealings with his sister, Caddy—whom he blames for his loss of a job in a bank—before a chance comment from his boss, Earl, brings him back to the present, which is Good Friday, April 6,1928.
Benjy, who begins the novel with a narrative describing the events of Saturday, April 7, 1928, his birthday, is an idiot with no sense of cause and effect. Scene shifts from various times in the past occur in Benjy's mind when present-day experiences trigger his memory. If Luster, Benjy's black attendant, unsnags Benjy from a fence in the present, Benjy recalls Caddy freeing him...
(The entire section is 2467 words.)
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The themes in The Sound and the Fury are so closely interwoven with the characters and structure of the novel that it is difficult to separate these elements. In all four sections of the novel, however, time is an important theme that Faulkner develops. The central characters of the four sections each cope with time in a different way. In the first section, Benjy's sense of time is defective. His thoughts move from present to past time without the ability to grasp the real meaning of events. Benjy is free from time because he cannot understand its impact on his feelings. Quentin's efforts to cope with the present are impeded by his memories. He cannot accept the changes in his life that time inevitably brings. His sense of loss over the innocence of his childhood love of Caddy is unbearable. Rather than deal with life's changes over time, he puts an end to time by committing suicide. Jason, on the other hand, lives in time present, around which all his actions flow. By living in time present, Jason reacts to events as they occur, unlike Quentin who acts on time past. In the last section of the book, Dilsey represents another view of time. Hers is a historical view. She embraces all of her life experiences and those of the Compsons with a religious faith about the timelessness of life. Her view most closely reflects the author's viewpoint on time. By having the novel cover four days, each section representing one day, Faulkner is able to use...
(The entire section is 1946 words.)