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Caddy is perhaps the most important figure in the novel,
as she represents the object of obsession for all three of her brothers.
As a child, Caddy is somewhat headstrong, but very loving and affectionate.
She steps in as a mother figure for Quentin and Benjy in place of
the self-absorbed Mrs. Compson. Caddy’s muddying of her underwear
in the stream as a young girl foreshadows her later promiscuity.
It also presages and symbolizes the shame that her conduct brings
on the Compson family.
Caddy does feel some degree of guilt about her promiscuity because
she knows it upsets Benjy so much. On the other hand, she does not
seem to understand Quentin’s despair over her conduct. She rejects
the Southern code that has defined her family’s history and that
preoccupies Quentin’s mind. Unlike Quentin, who is unable to escape
the tragic world of the Compson household, Caddy manages to get
away. Though Caddy is disowned, we sense that this rejection enables
her to escape an environment in which she does not really belong.
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