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MonkeyNotes-The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
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OVERALL ANALYSES

CHARACTERS

Mr. Jason Richmond Compson

Mr. Compson is the head of the Compson family, a family of distinguished ancestry including a governor and a brigadier general. He is an alcoholic and fails in his duty as a parent. He certainly loves his children, but he does not take as much interest in their upbringing as a responsible father should do. His love is noticeable from the fact that he readily brings Caddy's child who has been disowned by Caddy's husband to his own house.

Mr. Compson is opposed with the concept of time and wants to escape from its tyranny. Quentin's obsession with time is reinforced by that obsession of his father's. According to Mr. Compson 'Christ was not' crucified, but was "worn away by a minute clicking of little wheels".

Long after Mr. Compson's death Dilsey remembers him as a force for order in the household and reproaches Jason saying that if Mr. Compson were still alive things would have been different. Caddy also has some fond memories of her compassionate father, such as when she pleads with her cold-hearted brother Jason to let her see her baby. She says, "You have fathers name. Do you think I'd have to ask him twice? Once even?"

According to one critic - "Mr. Compson is a weak, nihilistic alcoholic who toys with the emotions and needs of his children. Even when he feels sympathy and compassion, he fails to show it effectively.


Mrs. Caroline Compson

Mrs. Compson is a whining, self-pitying woman, who is perpetually sick or imagines herself to be sick. She feels she is a victim of cruel fate. Mrs. Compson is so obsessed with her own needs and martyrdom that she virtually abandons her children. As a result, the seams of the family fall apart.

Quentin Compson

Quentin is the eldest and most promising son of Mr. and Mrs. Compson. He is an introvert by nature and he keeps thinking and brooding over his experiences. Both his parents have been indifferent to him from his childhood, just as they have been indifferent to the other children. Quentin especially misses the attention that he thinks he should have received from his mother.

He feels very strongly the need for morality and order in his family, and the lack of it eventually destroys him. He commits suicide because he feels that time will wear away the significance of his suffering. His death is a means to stop time.

Caddy

Caddy is revealed to us through the impression the three brothers have of her. As a child, Caddy shows certain qualities of initiative and enterprise. She climbs a tree in order to watch her grandmother's funeral. She does not care if her dress gets wet, nor is she shy about taking it off in order to dry it. Caddy shows a great deal of affection for her parents during her childhood. As she grows up her love of independence develops into an attitude of irresponsibility and a defiance of convention. She moves about with boys, becomes pregnant and then hastily marries Herbert in order to cover up. She is very realistic and hates any kind of false pride or hypocrisy. She admits that she did not love the men whom she has slept with.

She is very concerned and anxious about the welfare and happiness of her child and begs Jason to give her daughter the things that little girls of her age would like to have. She regularly sends money for the maintenance of her daughter. She doesn't realize that by depriving her daughter of a mother, she is condemning her to the same confusion and pain she went through in her adolescence. Caddy is a victim of her own motherless childhood.

Jason Compson

Jason is brutal and cold-hearted. Faulkner calls him the last of the Compsons, since he will never marry. He is selfish and conniving. He gets joy and entertainment from making others suffer. He is not averse to cheating his own mother out of money and has no scruples about any of the misdeeds he regularly performs.

Benjy

Benjy is the youngest of the Compson children. He lives his life by instinct, relying on his sense of goodness and sometimes extraordinarily his sense of smell (in the case of Caddy) as a way of knowing what is happening. He reports in a detached impersonal manner events of the present and past, since his mind records the actions but not always their emotional weight or tone.

Benjy has an instinctive sense of right and wrong. As such, he serves as a kind of mirror to the other characters. Caddy, Dilsey, Damuddy, and Quentin are the only characters whom he consistently regards or records with affection and likability. This is a key to each of these characters' own moral worth.

Dilsey

Dilsey is the Negro cook. Her loyalty to the family members shines like a beacon in the midst of the surrounding gloom. She is full of love and compassion and can reach out to every member of the Compson family. Dilsey is a deeply religious woman who willingly takes it upon herself to bring up these children whose parents have deserted them in their need. Dilsey is such a good woman that she can serve as a measure by which we can judge the character of each of the members of the Compson family.

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