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The Sound and the Fury is the story of the decline of a Southern family. The family consists of Mr. and Mrs. Compson and their four children, Quentin, Caddy, Jason and Benjy. A number of servants, freed slaves, work for this family. The servants include Dilsey, the housekeeper, and her grandson Luster.
The story is not structured chronologically; bits and pieces of the narrative are given slowly and spread apart to reveal the full story. The novel consists of four sections. The first three sections are monologues written in the voices of the Compson sons: Benjy, Quentin, and Jason, respectively. In the fourth section the author narrates the incidents as a detached observer.
Long ago, the Compson daughter Caddy got pregnant and was forced to marry (though her husband was not the father of her child). She left her family in disgrace, and sent her daughter to live with them when the girl was born. Her brother Quentin (after whom the daughter was named) committed suicide because he was unable to cope with his family's deterioration and his sister's fall from grace. The father died and the mother was always too frail to care for her children, so the responsibility for caring for Benjy fell on the black cook and her children. Jason, the only remaining Compson son, became a bitter and cruel man who stole from his niece (Caddy's daughter) and treated her very badly.