The Sound and the Fury

by: William Faulkner

Jason Compson IV

Jason’s legacy, even from his earliest childhood, is one of malice and hatred. Jason remains distant from the other children. Like his brothers, Jason is fixated on Caddy, but his fixation is based on bitterness and a desire to get Caddy in trouble. Ironically, the loveless Jason is the only one of the Compson children who receives Mrs. Compson’s affection. Jason has no capacity to accept, enjoy, or reciprocate this love, and eventually he manipulates it to steal money from Miss Quentin behind Mrs. Compson’s back. Jason rejects not only familial love, but romantic love as well. He hates all women fervently and thus cannot date or marry and have children. Jason’s only romantic satisfaction as an adult comes from a prostitute in Memphis.

Unlike Quentin, who is obsessed with the past, Jason thinks solely about the present and the immediate future. He constantly tries to twist circumstances in his favor, almost always at the expense of others. Jason is very clever and crafty, but never uses these talents in the spirit of kindness or generosity. Though he clearly desires personal gain, Jason has no higher goals or aspirations. He steals and hoards money in a strongbox, but not for any particular purpose other than selfishness. On the whole, Jason is extremely motivated but completely without ambition.

Jason’s lack of achievement stems primarily from his relentless self-pity. Jason never forgives Caddy for the loss of the job at Herbert’s bank, and he is unable to move past this setback to achieve anything worthwhile in his later life. Ironically, Jason becomes the head of the Compson household after his father’s death—an indication of the low to which the once-great family has sunk.