The Sound and the FuryThis novel revolves around the rise and the fall of the aristocratic 19th century Southern Compsons that advocated conventional Southern values.
In that dynamism and the muting family norms, the rival upsurge was the changing role of men and women. This is true, as men used to enjoy their authority, dominance, power, masculinity, valiancy, virtuous strength, determination, and courtliness over women and in the society while the role played by the women was similar to putting a showpiece in the form of feminine purity, elegance, and chastity. Women’s role was subjected to mere child bearing and continuing the family name.1Nevertheless, the change came, and the Reconstruction of the civil values after the Civil War changed the way people behave, think and nourish. This change swept many an aristocratic families like Faulkner as neither they could accept the change nor they could really adjust to it, that made the consequences all the more horrible for the Faulkner family as this became the core destroyer and corrupter of the fundamental family norms. The corrupter was Mr.
Compson himself, and he later on passed on this corruption to his son. Compson had three sons that were overprotective of his daughter Caddy, obsessed by her mere presence. While Caddy was inclined to find a way out of this confusion, Quentin was over simplified in his way to clutch to the same old past values. This rebelled Caddy who later played a very influential role. But this chaos and confusion ended in one thing. The emptiness in the house of Compson and the absence of love in the family made one sure thing, that is to make both the parents in the house both indifferent and ineffective. With respect to Caddy, she remained and retained the conception of feminine innocence by showing the ability to love and be loved.
However, this quality of hers owned her disownment. In the end, the only true part played was that by Dilsey that depicted true love devoid of any confusion and past clutches of family values.In order to compare Caroline Compson and Dilsey as mother figures, we must analyze that Compson cared more for appearances than for reality. Her obsession with sounds and appearance greatly altered the life of her children. She shifted her responsibilities as a mother onto the black housekeeper Dilsey, because she was unable to handle the appearance of her own family. Mrs.
Compson felt a great burden placed upon her life after the birth of her fourth child Benjy. At birth Benjy appeared normal, though he never fully mentally developed. When Mrs. Compson learned of her sons disability her entire life shattered. She wondered how anyone could accept her or her son now. The mother’s obsession with sound and appearances led to the following, “Reckon Maury going to let me cry on him a while, too. His name is Benjy now, Caddy said.
How come it is, Dilsey said. He aint wore out the name he was born with yet, is he. Benjamin came out of the bible, Caddy said. It’s a better name for him than Maury was.”1 Mrs.
Compson felt that Benjy did not deserve the family name of Maury. In her eyes he was not her son. She found it impossible to love a feeble child. Caroline Compson’s fixation upon sound and appearance led to the death of Quentin. She forced Harvard upon her son. Mrs.
Compson felt that she would be looked upon as an important person if she could say her son attended Harvard. She had no concerns over what effects sending Quentin to Harvard had on the rest of her family. She only concentrated on sounds. The following quote showed how Quentin felt about the situation.
Her world depicted a materialistic view of people, a world where only sounds existed. Mrs. Compson’s obsession with appearance forced her children away. To an outside observer Mrs. Compson appeared to be the mother of the family. However, the appearance was not the reality.
On the other hand, Dilsey, the black maid, raised the children, both emotionally and physically. She loved unconditionally, like a true mother should. Dilsey shared a tender loving bond with the children, not a biological one. She focused on reality rather than appearance. Dilsey searched deep into the children’s souls, forming a special bond inside the heart of each one; a bond that Mrs. Compson and her search for the perfect appearance could never find. Both reality and time slipped away from Mrs.
Compson in her desires for material appearances. Unlike Mrs. Compson Dilsey understood time. The following quote showed Dilsey as the stable figure of the family. “A cabinet clock ticked, then with a preliminary sound as if it had cleared its throat, struck five times. ‘Eight oclock’ Dilsey said.2 ” Mrs.
Compson forced her children into the arms of Dilsey because she could not see past the appearance of things. In William Faulkner’s novel, The Sound and the Fury, Mrs. Compson lived her life always concerned with appearance. This quality drove her children away.
2She could not accept her children for what they were. She eventually lost all of them: Quentin took his own life; Benjy was forever lost to a mental disability; Caddy disgraced herself sexually and disappeared; Jason became so bitter he could find no way of establishing a family of his own. If her children would have been able to reach out and talk to her, things may have ended differently. Both the women can be compared and contrasted by this above discussion.Endnotes1.How to Read Faulkner.
(The Washington Times, 2005). 3-52.Marr, Andrew. The Sound and the Fury. (New Statesman, Vol.
128, 1999). 15