Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Yoknapatawpha County

Yoknapatawpha County (YOK-nuh-puh-TAW-fuh). Beginning with his third novel, William Faulkner set a great deal of his fiction in the imaginary Yoknapatawpha County. Faulkner drew this county for a map included in his novel Absalom, Absalom! (1936). He included details about plot events and where they occurred. The county is named after a river in Mississippi and the Native American word Yoknapatawpha. The details make it clear that it corresponds to Lafayette County, Mississippi, where Faulkner lived in the town of Oxford, called Jefferson in his fiction. Throughout Faulkner’s fiction, he creates a detailed history of the land, its inhabitants, its changes, and its significance. By taking his home, what he called his own “little postage stamp of native soil,” and transforming it into the powerful mythical county of his fiction, Faulkner created an enduring literary landscape.


Jefferson. Typical southern town of the period, Jefferson plays a central role in the story. The siblings play on their land and the surrounding area, from Benjy’s pasture to neighboring yards, the riverbank, and the creek, where a number of important events take place. The powerful last scene of the novel takes place in the town square, complete with Confederate statue, where Luster upsets Benjy by going the wrong way on a one-way street. The town is also where Jason rushes in and out of the store...

(The entire section is 553 words.)

Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

The Impact of the Civil War on the South
The loss of the Civil War in the nineteenth century had a profound impact on the psyche...

(The entire section is 817 words.)

Chronology of Major Events

(Novels for Students)

circa 1889—The birth of Quentin Compson.

circa 1891—The birth of Candace (Caddy) Compson.

circa 1893—The birth...

(The entire section is 212 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Writing in his book The Falkners of Mississippi in a chapter called "Cowboys, Indians, and a Flying Machine," Murray Falkner describes...

(The entire section is 776 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Faulkner's Compsons have some relation to his own family and some to people he knew in Oxford as he was growing up. Book II "Childhood and...

(The entire section is 438 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Unlike many of William Faulkner's novels, which deal with the politics of class, race, or man's responsibility to the land, The Sound and...

(The entire section is 294 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Novels for Students)

1929: Black and white relations in the South were stratified along racial lines. Education was officially segregated, with facilities...

(The entire section is 328 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Research mental retardation and discuss the accuracy of Faulkner's portrayal of Benjy. Compare public attitudes toward mental impairment and...

(The entire section is 123 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Sound and the Fury resembles nothing in Faulkner's previous work. When Faulkner wrote the novel, he was not sure that he would...

(The entire section is 306 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Faulkner's short story, "That Evening Sun," which preceded The Sound and the Fury, features Mr. and Mrs. Compson, and the Compson...

(The entire section is 383 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Sound and the Fury was adapted for television in 1955 and for film in 1959 in two forgettable productions. The television play was...

(The entire section is 62 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Novels for Students)

Jerry Wald produced and Martin Ritt directed a film version of The Sound and the Fury in 1959. Jason was played by Yul Brynner and...

(The entire section is 51 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Novels for Students)

A tale of incest in the Sutpen family set in the South, Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! (1936) features Quentin Compson as a character....

(The entire section is 120 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Caddy Compson. New York: Chelsea House, 1990. Contains ten critical essays focusing on Caddy Compson.

Karl, Frederick R. William Faulkner: American Writer. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989. A 1,000-page biography of Faulkner that also provides insightful critical analyses of his major works. Karl’s discussion of how Faulkner wove together the complex parts of The Sound and the Fury is particularly illuminating.

Matthews, John T. “The Sound and the Fury”: Faulkner and the Lost Cause. Boston: Twayne, 1991. A short but insightful book-length study of the...

(The entire section is 193 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Novels for Students)

Adams, Richard P. Faulkner: Myth and Motion. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968.


(The entire section is 696 words.)