The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

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RATING: 3.5/5

BLURB: “Depicting the gradual disintegration of the Compson family through four fractured narratives, The Sound and the Fury explores intense, passionate family relationships where there is no love, only self-centredness. At its heart this is a novel about lovelessness – “Only an idiot has no grief; only a fool would forget it. What else is there in this world sharp enough to stick to your guts?””

REVIEW: This book came to me highly recommended by a friend and, as I’ve always enjoyed books set in historic American South, I was looking forward to reading it. The book is divided into four sections, the first three being narrated by the males of the Compson family – Benjy, an adult male who is severely disabled and relies entirely on others, particularly on Caddy, the Compsons’ only daughter; Quentin, whose shame over Caddy’s promiscuity and efforts to protect his sister’s dignity lead to him becoming a highly sympathetic character; and Jason, whose cruelty towards Caddy’s daughter, Miss Quentin, is further explored in the final section of the novel, which lacks a narrator but focuses on Dilsey, the Compsons’ put-upon housekeeper. I won’t pretend that this book is easy to read – on the contrary, the strong emotions of the narratives and the often manic writing structure can often make it rather difficult, but it is definitely worth it. Benjy’s section in particular is hard to read, simply because it evokes such empathy for the situation of his character. The thing I most enjoyed about this novel, however, was exploring the character of Caddy. Each of the Compson men sees her in a different way – Benjy sees her as a mother, Quentin as a victim, Jason as a whore – all of which make her subordinate to them, but it is Caddy who shapes the boys’ lives and attitudes, and it is she who seems to posses the ultimate influence over the events that unfold within the Compson family. Overall, I would definitely recommend the book – it may be a struggle at first, but persevere, because it is most definitely worth it.

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