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MonkeyNotes-The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
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SECTION II: Quentin's Monologue, 2nd June 1910

Summary

The second section of the novel also contains a monologue, this one written in the voice of Quentin, the oldest Compson son. Quentin is a student at Harvard. His family sold the field that is now the golf course to put him in school. Quentin's monologue, like Benjy's, is stream-of-consciousness, but with the articulation and coherence of a fully cognizant adult. Though the past and present are mingled, there is a clearer sense of time. Memories are more firmly established as memories. The present is continuous, linear, and cohesive.

In the present, Quentin wakes up in his dorm room at Harvard. He pays meticulous attention to time, noticing the way shadows fall on the window and calculating (based on that) what time it is down to the minute. He can hear the ticking of the watch his father gave him. He remembers his father giving him the watch, saying "I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won."

His roommate, Shreve MacKenzie rises from bed and gets ready for class. He asks Quentin if he is skipping class. Quentin appears to be in no hurry. Shreve leaves and Quentin listens to the clock in the tower, thinking about his family. After a while, Quentin gets up and breaks the glass face of his watch. He takes the hands off the dial and puts them in an ashtray. The clock continues to tick. He cuts his finger on the broken dial. He cleans his hand. He packs his belongings in his cases, bathes, and shaves. He writes two letters, addressing one to his father.


When he leaves his dorm, he mails the letter to his father. The second, addressed to Shreve, he gives to an old man named Deacon to deliver to Shreve the next day. He eats breakfast, buys a cigar, and listens to the clock tower. Then he goes to a clock shop and asks the man to fix his watch. He says he accidentally stepped on the watch. The man can fix it but not till that afternoon. Quentin takes the watch. Before he leaves, he asks the repairman is any of the watches in the display have the correct time. The man says no, they have not been set. Quentin leaves, remembering something else his father told him about time. "Father said clocks slay time. He said time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life." He stops in the hardware store and buys two flatirons, wrapped to look like shoes. Back at the college, Shreve tells him they have been invited to spend some time with Gerald Bland, another Harvard student, and his mother. Quentin takes a streetcar to the country, ignoring the invitation.

In the country, he stops to buy bread. A little Italian girl follows him around. She is poor and hungry, so he buys her some bread. He calls her "sister". Then he tries to find her family. She reminds him of Caddy. The girl never speaks to tell him where she lives. She just continues to follow him. Finally, the girl's brother finds them and has Quentin arrested for molesting the child. At the same time, Shreve and Gerald Bland show up. In the ensuing chaos, Quentin quietly pays the fines imposed on him and leaves with Shreve and the Blands, never defending himself or explaining that he was just being nice to the girl. He goes on the picnic with the Blands. He and Gerald box, and Quentin loses. He returns to his dorm room in town, changes his clothes, and brushes his teeth. He puts his watch in Shreve's drawer and commits suicide after listening to the clock tower strike its last note.

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MonkeyNotes-The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
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