The Sound and the Fury Part 2 Summary and Analysis
by William Faulkner

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Part 2 Summary and Analysis

Quentin: June 2, 1910
New Characters:

Dalton Ames: the seducer of Caddy, with whom Quentin either remembers or imagines having had an encounter

Anse: the law enforcement officer who arrests Quentin

Gerald Bland: a young man from Kentucky who reminds Quentin of Dalton Ames. Quentin picks a fight with Gerald Bland and loses badly

Mrs Bland: the mother of Gerald Bland, who boasts about her son’s sexual conquests

Three Boys: youngsters Quentin encounters as they gaze at an enormous trout and daydream about the prize they could win by catching it

Deacon: an elderly Negro man who hangs around campus and reminds Quentin of Roskus. Quentin entrusts Deacon with the suicide note to Shreve

Herbert Head: the groom of Caddy, who leaves her on discovering that she is pregnant

Jeweler: a man who examines Quentin’s broken watch

Julio: an Italian immigrant who thinks that Quentin is trying to abduct his sister

Little Italian Girl: a lost girl Quentin attempts to befriend, only to be accused of abduction

Natalie: an early girlfriend of Quentin, who arouses the anger of Caddy

Shreve MacKenzie: a roommate of Quentin at Harvard (He is also a character in Faulkner’s novel Absalom, Absalom)

Spoade: a fellow-student of Quentin at Harvard, who has a reputation for laziness

The Squire: the local official who tries Quentin for kidnapping a little girl

The second part of The Sound and the Fury is narrated from the perspective of Quentin, the oldest of the Compson children. Though not as disconnected as the first part, it also moves back and forth in time and space. In one respect, it can be even more difficult than the first part, since it blends not only different events but also fantasy and reality. We cannot always separate what Quentin remembers from what he imagines. Nevertheless, everything in Part Two is centered around a continuous sequence of events.

Quentin, now a student at Harvard, begins the day on which he has planned to commit suicide. He contemplates his watch, which is an heirloom given to him by his father. It came with the advice that it is futile to try to conquer time. The watch, for his father, symbolized the futility of all human endeavor, and the illusive nature of all victory or defeat. Mr Compson presented the watch to Quentin with the words, “I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire.”

Quentin listens to the watch and meditates on the nature of time. He is briefly interrupted by his roommate, Shreve, who is getting ready for class. Then Quentin’s thoughts turn to the wedding of his sister Caddy. Quentin remembers the pregnancy of his sister, which caused her new husband, Herbert Head, to abandon her. He told his father that it was not Dalton Ames, a boyfriend, that took Caddy’s virginity. It was he, Quentin, who committed incest with his sister. His father responded to this, as to most everything, with cynical philosophizing.

Upset by the memories, Quentin takes the watch from the top of his dresser, breaks the crystal and tears off the hands. He cuts his thumb in the process, but the watch continues to tick. Quentin puts iodine on the cut, cleans up the blood and begins meticulously putting everything in order for his suicide.
He arranges his clothes, packs his trunk, arranges a stack of books, showers and shaves. Then Quentin writes two suicide notes, one to his father and one to Shreve. He mails the first note, enclosing the key to his trunk, then entrusts the other to Deacon, an old African-American man from the South who constantly hangs around campus.

He takes the broken watch to a jeweler, who examines it. The jeweler says that the mechanism appears to be in order, but he will have to look more closely to know for sure. Quentin declines to leave the watch in the shop, saying that he does not need a timepiece at the moment. He notices the ticking of many watches and clocks all around him, and asks the jeweler if any one of them tells the correct time. In answer, the jeweler begins to tell Quentin the time. Quentin...

(The entire section is 4,283 words.)