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MonkeyNotes-The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

The Sound and the Fury takes place in Jefferson, Mississippi, an imaginary town in imaginary Yoknapatawpha County. William Faulkner created the town and the county and situates most of his novels in that setting. Many of Faulkner's novels, including The Sound and the Fury, are known as 'Yoknapatawpha novels'. The main characters, members of the Compson family, live on a once grand stretch of land known as "The Compson Mile". Their estate is not as magnificent as it was long ago. It is a perfect symbol of a great family's downfall.

Jefferson is a racially mixed town in the post-war South. Many of the black residents still recall slavery and mention it. Among the locations of significance in the town are the hardware store where Jason Compson works and the graveyard where many Compsons are buried and where Benjy Compson likes to visit. There is also a golf course that sits on a piece of land once belonging to the Compson's and known as "Benjy's field".


Harvard University is another setting in the novel. Quentin, the eldest Compson son, goes to college at Harvard. Some of the incidents of the last day of Quentin's life take place in the countryside near Harvard University and Boston. A few incidents take place in Quentin's room in the University hostel.

A town named Mottson is also mentioned towards the end. The carnival from Jefferson has relocated to Mottson, and Jason Compson goes there in search of his niece.

LIST OF CHARACTERS

Major Characters

Mr. Jason Compson - The negligent father. He is a descendant of a distinguished Southern family now in a state of decline. He is addicted to drinking and is cynical in his views. He is pretty detached from the needs of his family.

Mrs.Caroline Compson - The half-comic, half-pathetic, neurotic mother. She is the wife of Mr. Jason Compson. She is a whining, self-pitying woman who seems to always be too ill or too poorly constituted to respond to her children's needs. She is incredibly dependent to and devoted on her son, Jason.

Quentin Compson - The oldest Compson son. Quentin is an introvert. He is very concerned with order and appearance, and has a lot of difficulty dealing with the chaos of his family. He is devoted to Caddy, his sister, and is horrified by her immoral behavior. As a result of his inability to cope with disorder, he commits suicide while living at Harvard.

Caddy Compson - The only daughter in the Compson family. Caddy is the second oldest. She alone takes time to communicate with Benjy, her retarded brother. She is extremely close to Quentin. During her adolescence, Caddy becomes very defiant and promiscuous. She gets pregnant and marries a man, Herbert Head, who is not the father of her child. Herbert divorces her soon after the baby is born. Her family generally regards her as a "fallen woman". She is not welcome to return home, and Mrs. Compson dictates that her name never be spoken again.

Jason Compson - The favorite son of the mother. He is the 3rd of the Compson children, and by far the most unlikable. As a child, he is a tattletale. As an adult, he is a crook and a liar. He cheats his sister Caddy and his mother out of a lot of money. He is responsible for Benjy's castration and eventual placement in an asylum. Caddy's daughter, Quentin, is the only member of the family able to get revenge on Jason for his cruelty.

Benjy Compson - The youngest of the Compson children. He is born and named Maury, but when his retardation is discovered, his name is changed to Benjy. He never speaks, but his thoughts reflect at least the perception of good and evil. He loves Caddy enormously, and is calmed down later in life just by holding one of her old slippers.

Dilsey Gibson - The Compson's black cook. She is one of the most likable characters in the novel, perhaps because she is not a true member of the ill-fated Compson clan. She is very loyal and devoted to the Compson family. She is also a very religious woman.

Miss Quentin - Caddy's illegitimate daughter. She is brought up in the Compson household, because Caddy's husband had refused to acknowledge the child as his. Like Caddy, she is a defiant, promiscuous girl. Unlike Caddy, she cannot stand Benjy. She runs away from home after stealing back the money that her Uncle Jason has taken from her.

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