Title: The Sound and the Fury
Author: William Faulkner
Number of Pages: 336
Ratings: 3 out of 5 bookmarks
** SPOILERS THROUGHOUT – Its too hard to write about this book without some spoilers. You’ve been warned** The Sound and the Fury is the story of the Compson family, a family of the slowly dying Old South. The story is about a series of events that greatly impact the family, told from the point of view of four very different narrators: Benjy, a mentally and physically retarded man trapped in his own mind; Quentin, a neurotic and self-destructive man with a penchant for self delusion and incest; Jason, a money grubber and misanthrope whos main goal in life is to make all those in his life miserable; a third-person narrator who attempts to provide somewhat of a netural depection of the Compson family. The other main character of the novel, the Compson sister Caddie, is never given her own personal narration section, making her a lovely ambiguous character for the reader. The evens in the novel range from Caddie’s promiscuous ways, eventual pregnancy and running away from home to Caddie’s daughter stealing money from Jason and Quentin’s suicide. The entirety of the novel is told in Faulkner’s signature style, and my feelings towards the book have been mixed from the start.
The writing style, as I’ve mentioned before, caused me quite a few headaches as I was reading the book. The opening section, told from Benjy’s point of view, was particularly difficult. Because of Benjy’s mental illness, he doesn’t understand the difference between past and present. So all of the stories he tells about his family that occur in the past are told as if they are currently happening. To add to that confusion, the scenes we see through Benjy’s eyes are not told linerally – they are told out of order, and only after many careful readings of the section was I able to put all the pieces in to their correct place. Quentin’s section, however, was almost more difficult to read, seeing as how I expected him to be able to narrate much more smoothly. But his constant neroticism kept muddling up his narration, although I found the scene when he and Caddie discuss killing themselves to be absolutely wonderfully crafted. After these two highly difficult sections, it was a relief to get to Jason’s section and the final portion, narrated by an omniscient 3rd person. True, Jasons whining was really extreme, but at least he complained in a normal, easy to understand fashion.
The book is a classic. Almost everyone I’ve talked to has read this book and had some kind of serious reaction to it. Most people have loved it. Some have hated it. But there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. I’m going to have to say that I’m on the hate it side, just because I found the book too much for me to deal with. It was just too much to wade through. However, I fully recognize the genius behind Faulkner’s writing style, which is why the book got the three out of five that it did. The themes of family and what is insanity and who to trust and what to do when you can’t do anymore – all of those themes permeate the work, and they were definitely worth investigating. I’m glad I read the book. I just don’t think I’ll be reading it again any time soon.
Happy reading! Oh, and for those of you curious about my long absence? Blame an absolutely miserable case of the stomach flu. Literally no moving for days. But I’m back – and back with a vengence!