The Sound and the Fury Part 4 Summary and Analysis
by William Faulkner

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Part 4 Summary and Analysis

Dilsey: April 8, 1928
New Characters:

Old Man: a member of the troop of travelling entertainers. When Jason presses him for information about the location of Miss Quentin, the man goes after Jason with an axe

Troop Manager: helps rescue Jason, then assures him that the couple he seeks is not around
The Sheriff of Jefferson: the law enforcement officer to whom Jason complains after Miss Quentin has taken money from his room and run away. He declines to pursue Miss Quentin

This part of the novel is not narrated from the perspective of any character, but it centers largely around Dilsey. It takes place on Easter Sunday. Luster, to whom Dilsey gave a quarter so he could go to the show, has overslept. Mrs Compson calls Dilsey. The mistress of the house is used to sounds coming from the kitchen in the morning, but today it seems strangely quiet.

Gradually, members of the household get up. Luster dresses Benjy. Dilsey starts a fire and prepares breakfast. Jason is upset. A window in his room has been broken, and he blames this on Luster and Benjy. Luster denies the charge.

Jason suddenly realizes that Miss Quentin has not gotten up. He wants her to be roused immediately. Dilsey protests that the young lady should be able to sleep late on Sunday, but Jason insists. Dilsey goes to call for Miss Quentin, but there is no answer. Jason comes and opens the door. The room turns out to be empty. The bed has not been slept in, and the window is open.

Dilsey says that Miss Quentin will return soon. Mrs Compson becomes convinced that Miss Quentin has committed suicide. She tells everyone to search for a note. Jason, however, rushes to his room, and retrieves a box from the closet.

He examines the box carefully, then goes to call the sheriff to report a robbery. At first, Jason threatens to report it to the governor if the sheriff does not follow his instructions. Since the law officer, apparently, is not intimidated, Jason says he will drive immediately to the sheriff’s house. When Jason has left, Luster tells Dilsey that he and Benjy have seen Miss Quentin climb down the pear tree by her window every night.

Dilsey gets dressed for church, then she summons Luster. Benjy, who now lives mostly with the servants, goes with them to a negro church for the Easter service. Frony objects to his coming along, saying that people have begun to talk about it. Dilsey says that the only people to complain are “trash white folks.” She adds that God does not care whether Benjy is bright or not.

Reverend Shegog, a famous minister from St. Louis, is scheduled to preach. He is small, aged and at first unimpressive. As the minister begins to speak, his manner is aloof and restrained. Soon, however, he takes the measure of his audience and his demeanor changes. He begins to speak in dialect, and he preaches a rousing sermon filled with apocalyptic imagery. The members of the congregation are profoundly moved.

After the sermon, Dilsey is in tears. Frony, concerned about what people will think, asks Dilsey to control herself. Her mother replies that she has seen the beginning and now sees the end. This refers, of course, to the Compson estate.

When Dilsey has changed and returned to the Compson household, Mrs Compson asks Dilsey if she has found the suicide note from Miss Quentin. Mrs Compson is entirely convinced that Miss Quentin has killed herself. Dilsey repeats her conviction that Miss Quentin has just left temporarily. Mrs Compson, who has previously shown no interest in religion, asks Dilsey for a Bible.

The scene changes to the home of the sheriff, where Jason has just arrived. Jason has figured out that Miss Quentin and the travelling entertainer with a red tie have broken into his room and stolen thousands of dollars from him. He wants the sheriff to set out in immediate pursuit. Despite threats from Jason, the sheriff politely but firmly declines. He asks Jason for a detailed account of what happened, and says he will not get involved until there is proof...

(The entire section is 2,001 words.)