The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury - Paul Markakis A.P. English Period...

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Paul Markakis A.P. English Period 6 The Sound and the Fury In William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, each narrator used specific linguistic styles to convey meanings not only about their perceptions of the world around them but also about who they were as a character. Whether it was infantile Benjy, thoughtful Quentin or indignant Jason, the narrations of similar events were depicted in an entirely different manner. The most glaring of Benjy’s mental deficiencies was his inability to speak. Instead of talking, Benjy would begin to bellow when he was unhappy. These sad instances also tended to coincide with memories that involved Caddy. “Her eyes flew at me, and away. I began to cry. It got loud and I got up. 1 Though Benjy did not understand that the Compson family had just found out about Caddy losing her virginity to Dalton Ames, he knew that something had happened to her. Benjy also did not perceive that it “got loud” because he was beginning to bellow loudly. All he realized was that the sound was beginning to escalate. In addition to being unable to speak, Benjy lacked object permanence. Normally object permanence, or the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen touched or heard, is acquired in the infantile stage; this was not the case with Benjy. For example, when Benjy was waiting for Caddy to appear, he “listened to the water.” Then, he “couldn’t hear the water, and Caddy opened the door. 2 ” Most people would simply have said that Caddy simply turned off the water. However, Benjy did not have the reasoning ability to realize this. He heard the water running and then he no longer heard it. Benjy was unable to draw the connection between listening to running water and then immediately after, no longer hearing it. 1 Pages 68-69 2 Page 42 1
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It’s also interesting to note that Faulkner chose to say that Benjy “listened” to the water instead of that he heard it. The specific selection of the word listening suggests that Benjy was truly concentrating on the sound of the water instead of it just being there in the background. Benjy exhibited a lack of object permanence on his birthday when he burned himself in the fire as well. “I put my hand out to where the fire had been… my hand jerked back and I put it in my mouth… my voice was going loud every time. 3 ” Though Benjy perceived the fact that the fire was no longer visible, he was unable to comprehend that he could still burn himself. His necessity to be able to see or touch something in order to know it existed caused him to reach out at the fire and try to get it back. While Dilsey and Luster were arguing over Luster’s eating Benjy’s cake, all Benjy cared about was the fire that had been occupying him. He did not understand that his hand jerked back because he pulled it back after burning himself, nor did Benjy realize that his voice was getting loud because he was bellowing in pain. Quentin’s narration took place the day of his suicide. As he described to the reader the
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This note was uploaded on 02/22/2012 for the course ENGLISH 100 taught by Professor N/a during the Fall '11 term at Johns Hopkins.

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The Sound and the Fury - Paul Markakis A.P. English Period...

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