The Sound and the Fury Characters
by William Faulkner

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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Jason Lycurgus Compson (III)

Jason Lycurgus Compson (III), the grandson of a Mississippi governor, son of a Confederate general, and father to the last of the Compsons. Like his illustrious ancestors, his name suggests his passion, the classics. Unlike his forebears, he is unable to make a living or to fulfill his deepest ambition, the study of the Greek and Latin epigrammatists, but his stoic philosophy, culled from his reading, stands him in good stead. He speaks wisely, does little, drinks much, and is weary of his complaining wife, his wayward daughter, and his bickering sons.

Caroline Bascomb Compson

Caroline Bascomb Compson, his wife, who resents the Compson lineage and feels that hers is more glorious. A neurotic woman with psychosomatic symptoms, she complains constantly of her grievances and ills. Reluctant to face reality and rejoicing that she was not born a Compson, she indulges her fancies and pretends to be an antebellum Southern gentlewoman. Her fortitude in tragedy is even more remarkable for all her complaining, but she victimizes her children and devoted servants to maintain her resentment and illnesses.

Candace Compson

Candace Compson, their only daughter, affectionate, loyal, and libido-driven. She is called Caddy, a name that results in great confusion for her idiot brother, whose playground is the pasture sold to a golf course. She is devoted to her dead brother, her weak-minded brother, her own illegitimate daughter, and her loving father. She is at odds with her mother, her vengeful brother Jason, and several husbands. So promiscuous is she, even urging her sensitive brother Quentin to abortive intercourse, that she does not really know who is the father of her child. As an adventuress, she travels widely, and in the postlude to the novel she appears as the consort of a Nazi officer in Paris.

Quentin Compson

Quentin Compson, her beloved brother for whom she names her child even before the baby’s birth. Obsessed by a sense of guilt, doom, and death, he commits suicide by drowning in June, 1910, two months after his sister’s marriage to a man he calls a blackguard. Because he is deeply disturbed by family affairs—the selling of a pasture to pay for his year at Harvard, the loss of his sister’s honor, the morbid despair he feels for his idiot brother, his hatred of the family vices of pride and snobbishness—his death is predictable and unalterable.

Jason Compson (IV)

Jason Compson (IV), the only son to stay on in the Old Compson place, loyal to his weak and querulous mother, determined to gain his full share of his patronage, and bitter over his deep failures. His tale is one of petty annoyances, nursed grievances, and egotistic aggressiveness in his ungenerous and self-assertive mastery of his niece and the black servants. This descendant of aristocrats is more the type of small-town redneck, wily, canny, cunning, and deceitful. Not without his reasons for bitterness, he finally rids himself of his enervating responsibilities for a dying line by himself remaining a bachelor and having his idiot brother castrated.

Quentin

Quentin, the daughter of Candace and her mother’s own child. Reared by Dilsey, the black cook, Quentin is the last of anything resembling life in the old Compson house. As self-assertive as her uncle, she steals money he calls his but which is rightfully hers, and she elopes with a carnival pitchman. Beautiful in the wild way of her mother, she has never had affection from anyone except her morbid old grandmother and a brokenhearted servant. She is possibly Caddy’s child by a young man named Dalton Ames.

Dilsey Gibson

Dilsey Gibson, the bullying but beloved black family retainer, cook, financier (in petty extravagances), and benefactress who maintains family standards that no longer concern the Compsons. Deeply concerned for them, she babies the thirty-year-old Benjamin, the unfortunate Quentin, and the querulous old “Miss Cahline,” though she resists the egocentric Jason. A woman...

(The entire section is 2,349 words.)