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The Sound and the Fury

by: William Faulkner

Suggested Essay Topics

1. One of the most wrenching sections of the novel is Quentin’s confrontation with Caddy following the loss of her virginity. What drives Quentin to propose mutual suicide and to conceive of the idea of incest as a solution to their problems? Even in the absence of sex between them, is there something incestuous about Quentin and Caddy’s relationship?

2. Compare and contrast the three major narrators of the novel: Benjy, Quentin, and Jason. How are their sections alike? How do they differ? What are the consequences of Faulkner’s decision not to introduce an easily readable chapter until the second half of the novel?

3. Think about Benjy’s character. What purpose, if any, does he serve beyond the novel’s opening section? Is he a believable character?

4. Perhaps the single most important theme in The Sound and the Fury is the presence of time in human life. How is that relationship explored throughout the four sections of the novel?

5. Why do you think the fourth section of The Sound and the Fury, the section focusing on Dilsey, is so technically different than the other three? For example, why would Faulkner write this section in the third person while the others are all written in the first person?