The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

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The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner expresses racism in a unique way by having three different first person narrators Benjy (partially omniscient), Quentin, and Jason. Can you find any examples where there is a connection between the narrative form and racism?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is a complex issue to address because nearly everything in The Sound and the Fury is intricate.  I would suggest that a potential connection between the narrative form and racism is evident in the fragmentation of the Compson family and the narrative totality in Dilsey.  In order for this view to be accepted, one has to accept that Dilsey is the unifying presence and force that the Compsons could never be.  Faulkner's development of the Compson family is rooted in fragmentation and disunity.  The frayed relationship of the elder and Mrs. Compson is matched by the atomized nature of the children.  Caddy, the emotional focal point of the siblings, is never given a section and conjecture abounds as to what happened to her.  Quentin commits suicide amidst an abyss of self- hate, doubt, and frailty, seeing death as a shelter from the pain of living.  Jason is absorbed with materialism and shallow trappings of power as means to conceal the anger that burdens within.  Benjy embodies the incomplete nature of the family.  He possesses the ability to smell tragedy, but is castrated and intellectually incapable of conveying any of this to anyone.

In these aspects, the family's divided narrative focus is evident.  This enhances Faulkner's communication of the issue of race in the Compson family.  The issue of race is reflective of this divided condition.   Neither member of the family can truly understand and articulate the full throated dynamics of race because they lack the full means to articulate their own condition in the world. They are limited human beings, and Faulkner might be suggesting that their own psychological limitations is where racist attitudes develop.  Jason's brutal and shallow nature compels him to view Dilsey and people of color in less of a light.  His degrading treatment of Dilsey is reflective of the degradation he subjects others to and is rooted to the degrading psychological that lies at the center of his being in the world.  Benjy is in capable of understanding so much in the world, and the dynamics of...

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