Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

This book is about the fall of the Compson family.  They are a family from the South that was once proud and prominent and is crumbling into obscurity.  The main theme throughout the book seems to be the daughter of the family, Caddy.  The book is four chapters.  The first three are narratives of three of the brothers.  Chronology is kind of thrown out the window and the chapters don't really come in order of time.  The first three chapters follow a stream of consciousness narrative.  This means you get a peek into the characters mind and it jumps all over as he lives and remembers times past. 

The first chapter is by Benjy who is severely mentally retarded.  He love his sister Caddy and doesn't understand why she is in so much trouble all the time.

The Second chapter is by the extremely neurotic Quentin who has a break down when he finds out Caddy is pregnant and wants to claim to be the incestuous father.  His dad disregards and sends him off to school at Harvard. 

The third chapter is by Jason who is an over protective, self pitying, jerk who is thrown into the position of becoming the head of the family.  He basically brings up Caddy's illegitimate child, and thus drives her, the child away.  She leaves with a man from a traveling show and steels thousands of dollars that Caddy had been sending for her that Jason was keeping for himself.

The fourth chapter is in the voice of the author and you would think it would be there to fill in the blanks, but no.  It basically just gives a different perspective of the whole story focuses mainly on Dilsy, a black lady who is a servant in the Compson home who has played a huge role in raising the four Compson children and Miss Quentin, the illegitimate daughter of Caddy, as well.

The book is fascinating.  It throws most of what you expect in a narrative out the window.  There really isn't a story, it comes out of order and very important details are only assumed by the reader.  What the book does is show how shattered the post Civil War South was and how once great families and estates have crumbled with the end of Slavery.

I have to say that I could read the dialogue of the southern gentlemen Faulkner writes all day.  The word usage is very fun to me.

I am not sure if I would recommend this book to everyone.  I really liked it, but I didn't enjoy it.  It never grips you or brings you in and you are wondering what is going on the whole time.  It does seem to be some good mental exercise, though, if you are in to that.

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