Part 1 Summary and Analysis
Benjy: April 7, 1928
Maury Bascomb: brother of Mrs Caroline Compson. He is having an affair with Mrs Patterson
Benjy Compson (Maury, Benjamin): a profoundly retarded man, from whose perspective the section is narrated. He is the youngest son in the Compson family; brother of Caddy, Quentin (male) and Jason IV
Caddy (Candace) Compson: daughter of Mr and Mrs Compson, sister of Benjy, Quentin (male) and
Mrs Caroline Compson: mother of Benjy, Caddy, Quentin (male) and Jason IV
Jason Compson III: father of Benjy, Caddy, Quentin (male) and Jason IV
Jason Compson IV: son of Mr and Mrs Compson, brother of Benjy, Caddy and Quentin
Quentin (Dan) Compson: eldest son of Mr and Mrs Compson; brother of Benjy, Caddy, and Jason IV
Damuddy: the maternal grandmother of the Compson children, who dies in 1898
Frony: daughter of Dilsey and Roskus Gibson, sister of T.P. and Versh, mother of Luster
Dilsey Gibson: the aging cook and housekeeper in the Compson house, wife of Roskus, mother of T.P., Versh, and Frony
Roskus Gibson: the husband of Dilsey, father of T.P., Versh, and Frony, who dies in about 1914
T. P. Gibson: eldest son of Dilsey and Roskus, brother of Versh and Frony
Versh Gibson: second son of Dilsey and Roskus, brother of Frony and T.P., who takes care of Benjy before the task is delegated to Luster
Luster: a young Negro servant, whose job is to look after Benjy
Mrs Patterson: the wife of Mr Patterson. She is having an affair with Maury Bascomb
Mr Patterson: the husband of Mrs Patterson, who assaults Maury Bascomb for carrying on an affair with his wife
Miss Quentin: the daughter of Caddy, whom Luster and Benjy see climbing down a pear tree out of her room
This section is narrated from the point of view of Benjy, a severely retarded man on his thirty-third birthday. It consists of memories mixed with impressions, and moves back and forth between different periods of time. It is the most difficult part of the book, and scholars do not always agree on exactly what is happening in the narrative. They have divided it into events in various ways, usually into about 12 to 15 stories. Some of these, however, are linked only by associated places and objects, while others can be combined in longer sequences of events. There are roughly 100 changes of scene. Originally, Faulkner asked that the section be coded through print in various colors to indicate the different events. This was, however, too difficult and expensive for his publisher. Today, it would not be nearly so hard to mark the sections with colors or at least different fonts. No major publisher has attempted this, in part because of controversy over how the sections might be divided up. The transition from one set of events to another is generally indicated by italics, but these are not used in a very consistent manner.
There are a few major events, however, that stand out, and the reader should use them as points of orientation. These are the following:
On the Golf Course (present time)
The novel begins on a golf course after Benjy, together with Luster who looks after him, has climbed in through a hole in the fence. As we will learn in part two of the novel, the property is an area which was once known as “Benjy’s pasture,” because he was sent there to play as a child and as a young man. It was later sold to pay for his brother Quentin’s college tuition to Harvard, but Benjy retains a fondness for it.
It is the day before Easter, and it is also Benjy’s thirty-third birthday. A golfer calls out the word “caddie,” which is also the name of Benjy’s sister who has been away for a long time. Thinking of her makes Benjy begin to cry. Luster manages to calm Benjy by reminding him of the birthday cake that the servant Dilsey is making, then threatening to eat the entire cake, candles and all, if Benjy does not behave.
Luster is busy looking all over for a quarter he lost through a hole in his pocket. He needs the money to go to a minstrel show that night. When nobody...
(The entire section is 5,153 words.)