I have an essay to write about the theme of mourning in the  book The Sound and the Fury. What can I discuss with this theme, and how is it present or even hidden in a subtle way in the story?

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In William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, one can discuss mourning as the main theme. The idea of loss and defeat pervades the novel in subtle and explicit ways.

For Benjy, mourning can be explicit. In chapter 1, Benjy recalls the death of his grandma and the...

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In William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, one can discuss mourning as the main theme. The idea of loss and defeat pervades the novel in subtle and explicit ways.

For Benjy, mourning can be explicit. In chapter 1, Benjy recalls the death of his grandma and the family horse Nancy. This overt loss is paired with less tangible, more abstract losses. Benjy’s focus on Caddy might also allude to loss. Perhaps Caddy’s unclean underwear represents her loss of innocence or, more broadly, the South’s loss of principles and values. Thus, when the characters mourn Caddy’s conduct, they are also mourning the unfortunate trajectory of the South.

In chapter 2, the downfall of the South and Caddy seems to go hand and hand. Quentin’s furious grief over Caddy’s sexuality is paired with the idea that the South has lost its luster. Early in chapter 2, Quentin quotes his dad, who says, “It used to be a gentleman was known by his books; nowadays he is known by the ones he has not returned.” The Southern man has fallen. Instead of owning books, he has to borrow them. Similarly, the Southern woman, as symbolized by Caddy, has lost her status.

As with Benjy, Quentin is beset by thoughts of loss and defeat. Like Benjy, Quentin is preoccupied with Caddy. Quentin is also fixated on time. The chapter starts with Quentin inheriting a watch from his father. For Quentin and his dad, time is linked to death and sorrow. According to his dad, “clocks slay time.” However, once the clock stops, “time comes to life.” The notion that time equals death seems to put Quentin in a constant state of mourning and sadness. To relieve himself of this grief, Quentin kills himself.

In a general sense, The Sound and the Fury can be read as a novel about the loss and defeat of the Compson family as a whole. It’s an expression of the keen suffering that its members faced. With Miss Quentin managing to get away, Faulkner arguably finishes his book about mourning by mourning the end of the troubled Compson family.

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