A Comparison between the Benjy & Quentin sections of The Sound & the Fury.

Essay by HarrisNathokaUniversity, Master's March 2004

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Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle.

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

(Macbeth: V.v.18-27)

These Shakespearean verses lend William Faulkner the title of this novel, and speak of the philosophy behind it. In this soliloquy, Macbeth implies that the life is only a shadow of the past. He idealizes the greatness of the past, and expresses his inability as a modern man to achieve that greatness. "Faulkner reinterprets this idea," comment Phillips & Johnson, "implying that if man does not choose to take his own life, as Quentin does, the only alternatives are to become either a cynic and materialist like Jason, or an idiot like Benjy, unable to see life as anything more than a meaningless series of images, sounds, and memories."1

The three Compson brothers reveal their perspectives through their streams of consciousness in the first three sections of the novel. The fourth section is the perspective of "the narrator." Before we attempt to compare the first two sections of the novels i.e. the perspectives of Benjy and Quentin, we must not forget the conclusion of Donald Kartiganer, as he analyses the form of the novel. "None of the four tales speak to another, each imagined order cancels out the one that precedes it. Truth is the meaningless sum of four items, that seem to have no business being added: Benjy plus Quentin plus Jason plus 'the narrator'. 'You bring them together'," he quotes Faulkner,