The Sound and the Fury Sample Essay Outlines
by William Faulkner

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Sample Essay Outlines

Topic #1
The Significance of Names in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Characters in The Sound and the Fury often attribute an enormous, even magical, power to names. Dilsey, for example, in the first part, says her name is written in heaven and will be called on the Judgment Day. Very often, the name is regarded as a part of the person, no more separable than the heart or brain. This, however, is not unusual. Artists or leaders seek immortality through a name that will be repeated after death. By such acts as banning the name of Caddy or changing the original name of Benjy, Mrs Compson, especially, seems to be trying to conjure with names. Compare the various ways that names are used by characters in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.

II. The importance of names
A. A name as a means to immortality
B. The name as a part of the human being

III. The changing of Benjy’s original name
A. Why Mrs Compson did not want Benjy to be named after her brother
B. Why Mrs Compson selected the new name of "Benjamin"
1. Benjamin in the Old Testament
2. The Old Testament family of Benjamin compared to the Compsons
C. Reactions to the name change
1. The reaction of Caddy
2. The reaction of Dilsey
3. The reaction of Roskus
4. The reaction of Versh
D. How people called the son "Benjy" instead of "Benjamin"”
1. How "Benjy" sounded like "Maury"
2. How Mrs Compson considered nicknames vulgar
3. Why everyone persisted in using "Benjy"

IV. How Caddy’s name was banished from the Compson house
A. How Mrs Compson insisted the name never be used
1. How Mrs Compson did not want Miss Quentin to know about her mother
2. How Mrs Compson felt Caddy had taken over as mother
B. How the ban on Caddy’s name did not work
1. How Benjy thought of his sister whenever a golfer said "caddie"
2. How everyone thought about and remembered Caddy even without
saying her name

V. How the name of Quentin lived on
A. Why Miss Quentin was named after her Uncle
1. Caddy was very close to Quentin
2. Caddy may have wanted to guarantee that Quentin’s name not be banned from the Compson household
B. How Mr Quentin’s name lived on in Miss Quentin
1. How Miss Quentin was born only a few months after Mr Quentin died
2. How Miss Quentin was punished for what Quentin had done
3. How Benjy sometimes seemed to equate Mr Quentin with Miss Quentin
4. How Mrs Compson assumed that Miss Quentin had committed suicide, like her son

VI. Conclusions: Names are significant in this book
A. How names influence the way people are treated
B. The importance of being able to look beyond names

Topic #2
The Significance of time in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: People have disagreed over the nature of time. One philosopher of ancient Greece, Heraclitus, maintained that change was the ultimate reality, while another, Parmenides, believed that time was an illusion. The debate was very intense when Faulkner wrote, just as it is today. Faulkner was influenced by the French philosopher Heri Bergson, who emphasized the transient nature of all things, but he was also attracted to a Christian view of time as only a gateway to eternity.

In The Sound and the Fury Faulkner uses various characters to represent different views of the nature of time. Compare and contrast these various perspectives. Which do you think Faulkner considered closest to the truth? Which, if any, do you believe is right?

II. What is time?
A. Is permanence an illusion?
B. Is change an illusion?

III. Time in the perspective of Benjy
A. How there is no time—no past, present or future—for Benjy
B. Benjy is upset by any threat of change

IV. Time in the perspective of Mr Compson
A. How change is the only reality for Mr Compson
B. How Mr Compson looks to time for relief of his misery
C. How Mr Compson feels threatened by permanence
D. The nihilism of Mr Compson

V. Time in the perspective of Quentin
A. How Quentin tries to escape time
B. How Quentin tries to understand time
C. How Quentin breaks his watch to overcome time
D. How Quentin...

(The entire section is 1,221 words.)