The head of the Compson household until his death from alcoholism in 1912. Mr. Compson is the father of Quentin, Caddy, Jason IV, and Benjy, and the husband of Caroline.
The self-pitying and self-absorbed wife of Mr. Compson and mother of the four Compson children. Caroline’s hypochondria preoccupies her and contributes to her inability to care properly for her children.
The oldest of the Compson children and the narrator of the novel’s second chapter. A sensitive and intelligent boy, Quentin is preoccupied with his love for his sister Caddy and his notion of the Compson family’s honor. He commits suicide by drowning himself just before the end of his first year at Harvard.
The second oldest of the Compson children and the only daughter. Actually named Candace, Caddy is very close to her brother Quentin. She becomes promiscuous, gets pregnant out of wedlock, and eventually marries and divorces Herbert Head in 1910.
The second youngest of the Compson children and the narrator of the novel’s third chapter. Jason is mean-spirited, petty, and very cynical.
The youngest of the Compson children and narrator of the novel’s first chapter. Born Maury Compson, his name is changed to Benjamin in 1900, when he is discovered to be severely mentally retarded.
Caddy’s illegitimate daughter, who is raised by the Compsons after Caddy’s divorce. A rebellious, promiscuous, and miserably unhappy girl, Miss Quentin eventually steals money from Jason and leaves town with a member of a traveling minstrel show.
The Compsons’ “Negro” cook, Dilsey is a pious, strong-willed, protective woman who serves as a stabilizing force for the Compson family.
Read an in-depth analysis of Dilsey.
Dilsey’s husband and the Compsons’ servant. Roskus suffers from a severe case of rheumatism that eventually kills him.
One of Dilsey’s sons, T.P. gets drunk with Benjy and fights with Quentin at Caddy’s wedding.
Another of Dilsey’s sons and Benjy’s keepers.
Dilsey’s daughter. Frony is also Luster’s mother and works in the Compsons’ kitchen.
Frony’s son and Dilsey’s grandson. Luster is a young boy who looks after and entertains Benjy in 1928, despite the fact that he is only half Benjy’s age.
The mysterious man with whom Miss Quentin allegedly elopes.
The Compson children’s grandmother, who dies when they are young.
Mrs. Compson’s brother, who lives off his brother-in-law’s money. Benjy is initially named after Uncle Maury, but Benjy’s condition and Caroline’s insecurity about her family name convince her to change her son’s name.
The Compsons’ next-door neighbors. Uncle Maury has an affair with Mrs. Patterson until Mr. Patterson intercepts a note Maury has sent to her.
One of Caddy’s first suitors, whom Benjy catches with Caddy on the swing during the first chapter.
A local Jefferson boy who is probably the father of Caddy’s child, Miss Quentin.
Quentin’s roommate at Harvard. A young Canadian man, Shreve reappears in Absalom, Absalom!, one of Faulkner’s later novels, which is largely narrated by Shreve and Quentin from their dorm room at Harvard.
A Harvard senior from South Carolina. Spoade once mocked Quentin’s virginity by calling Shreve Quentin’s “husband.”
A swaggering student at Harvard. Quentin fights with Gerald because he reminds him of Dalton Ames.
Gerald Bland’s boastful, Southern mother.
A black man in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to whom Quentin gives his suicide notes.
The brother of an Italian girl who attaches herself to Quentin as he wanders Cambridge before his suicide.
The prosperous banker whom Caddy marries. Herbert later divorces Caddy because of her pregnancy.
Jason’s mistress, a prostitute who lives in Memphis.
The owner of the farm-supply store where Jason works. Earl feels some loyalty toward Mrs. Compson and thus puts up with Jason’s surliness.
A black man who works with Jason at Earl’s store.
The pastor who delivers a powerful sermon on Easter Sunday at the local black church in Jefferson.