Part 3 Summary and Analysis
Jason: April 6, 1928
Earl: owner of the department store where Jason works
Job: a Negro who works alongside Jason
Lorraine: a prostitute Jason sees in Memphis, to whom he gives money
This part takes place on the day before that of the first part. It is narrated from the point of view of Jason, the second youngest Compson child. This part of the novel is certainly more coherent than the previous two, but we should not assume the accounts in it are necessarily more reliable. While Benjy is limited by retardation and Quentin has a tendency to fantasize, Jason’s perspective is shaped by his anger and resentment.
As the section begins, Mrs Compson has just learned that Miss Quentin, her granddaughter, has been cutting school. The child told her grandmother that report cards were no longer being used, and then she forged Mrs Compson’s signature. Jason responds sarcastically. Mrs Compson begins weeping, and says that Jason is the only one in the family who has not been a curse for her.
Jason offers to take over the discipline of Miss Quentin, and Mrs Compson reluctantly agrees. He goes into the kitchen, where he finds Miss Quentin with Dilsey. As Jason starts to take off his belt to beat Miss Quentin, Dilsey grabs his arm. He threatens to strike Dilsey, but Mrs Compson appears in the door and intervenes.
Upon leaving, Jason encounters Miss Quentin again in the garage by the street. He begins to lecture her about the missing school book which, Jason claims, he paid for. Miss Quentin replies that she is certain her mother paid not only for the books but for her clothes and everything else as well. Then, to show her contempt for Jason and his money, she begins to tear off her dress in the street. Jason rushes up to stop her, and they get into a bitter argument.
Finally, when Jason arrives at the department store, Earl, his boss, directs him to help an elderly negro employee named Job to unload crates. Jason berates Job about slowness, but his colleague is unconcerned. Nobody in town seems to take Jason or his tantrums very seriously.
Jason picks up his mail from the post office, and reads a letter from Caddy. She is asking for assurance that Miss Quentin got an Easter dress and complains about her letters to Miss Quentin going unanswered. She adds that if she does not hear from Jason in the next few days she will go into town herself.
Jason goes to the telegraph office and does a little speculative investing in cotton futures. Then he opens a letter from Lorraine, his mistress in Memphis, he considers how he gave her $40 at their last meeting. Then Jason tears up the letter, since he wishes to keep his visits to Lorraine secret.
This, as we will see increasingly, is what Jason is like on the job. Almost all his time on the job during the day will be spent hanging about, making conversation and drifting from one personal matter to another. He will constantly be visiting the post office, to learn about his investments (which are always losing money). Only occasionally will he make the token gesture of waiting on a customer or attending to some other task.
We learn more about the circumstances of the Compson family through a series of flashbacks. When Caddy was abandoned by her husband, Mrs Compson prohibited the use of her name in the house. Mrs Compson wanted Miss Quentin to grow up ignorant of her mother’s disgrace.
Shortly afterwards, Mr Compson died of alcoholism. Jason met Caddy after the funeral at their father’s grave. She offered Jason $100 to let her see Miss Quentin. Jason took the money and promised to fulfill his part of the bargain. A while later he drove by Caddy in a carriage, and held up the infant for her to see.
It proved hard to banish Caddy’s memory from the house. To make sure Caddy did not get around him through Dilsey, Jason told Dilsey she could give Miss Quentin or Benjy leprosy just by looking at them. A few days later, however, he saw Benjy screaming and caressing Caddy’s slipper, so he...
(The entire section is 3,070 words.)