The Sound and the Fury

by: William Faulkner

Benjy Compson

A moaning, speechless idiot, Benjy is utterly dependent upon Caddy, his only real source of affection. Benjy cannot understand any abstract concepts such as time, cause and effect, or right and wrong—he merely absorbs visual and auditory cues from the world around him. Despite his utter inability to understand or interpret the world, however, Benjy does have an acute sensitivity to order and chaos, and he can immediately sense the presence of anything bad, wrong, or out of place. He is able to sense Quentin’s suicide thousands of miles away at Harvard, and senses Caddy’s promiscuity and loss of virginity. In light of this ability, Benjy is one of the only characters who truly takes notice of the Compson family’s progressing decline. However, his disability renders Benjy unable to formulate any response other than moaning and crying. Benjy’s impotence—and the impotence of all the remaining Compson men—is symbolized and embodied by his castration during his teenage years.


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