Ideas for Group Discussions
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 Youth" in Joseph Blotner's Faulkner: A Biography gives a good view of Faulkner's childhood and adolescence. While all the Falkner children were boys, Sallie Murry and Estelle Oldham, who later became Faulkner's wife, frequently joined them in play. Reading Blotner might help readers assess how closely Faulkner worked with biographical materials in his fiction. C. Vann Woodward's The Burden of Southern History provides a good overview of the South.
1. How closely is Faulkner working with his own past in the invention of the Compson family?
2. The decline of once-powerful families has been frequently dealt with in literature. Does a Southern past have much to do with the Compson family fall? Does it enrich that fall?
3. Faulkner appears to have used many cinematic devices in writing The Sound and the Fury. Can the book ever become a good movie or television play? Which medium do you think is closer to the form of the novel, television or film, and why?
4. How does Faulkner create order out of seemingly disordered consciousness in Benjy's and Quentin's narratives?
5. What symbolic structures does Faulkner employ in The Sound and the Fury, and how effective are they?
6. What effects does Faulkner gain by a changing point of view: from Benjy to Quentin to Jason to omniscient narration?
7. What is moving about this story? Which characters evoke sympathy? Which do not? Why?
8. Dilsey is the most admirable character in The Sound and the Fury. Is she a stereotype?
(The entire section is 438 words.)