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The Sound and the Fury

William Faulkner
Summary

April Seventh, 1928

Summary April Seventh, 1928

In this memory, Benjy and T.P., one of the Compsons’ black servants, have gotten their hands on some champagne from the wedding, though T.P. thinks the beverage is merely “sassprilluh.” The two boys are drunk and keep falling down as they watch some cows cross the yard. T.P. and Quentin get into a fight because T.P. has been teasing Quentin about Caddy. The fighting and the alcohol throw Benjy’s world into chaos, and he begins to cry. Versh carries Benjy up the hill to the wedding party.

Benjy’s memory of Versh carrying him returns his memory to 1898, when Versh was carrying Benjy up the hill after the Compson children played in the stream. In this memory, Versh tells the children that their parents have company over for dinner. When they reach the house, Jason tattles to Mr. Compson that Caddy and Quentin have splashed each other in the stream. Mr. Compson answers that the children will have to eat quietly in the kitchen because he has company over for dinner. Dilsey serves the children their meal, and as they eat, Benjy starts crying again. Quentin asks Dilsey if Mrs. Compson has been crying, and she deflects the question. Then, even Jason starts crying. Caddy teases Jason, knowing that he is upset because Damuddy is sick and he can no longer sleep in Damuddy’s bed. The children walk down to Versh’s house.

The memory of Versh’s cabin reminds Benjy of several occurrences from 1910 and 1912. In 1910, Dilsey is singing in the kitchen, and Roskus complains that the Compsons are unlucky. In 1912, T.P. takes Benjy and little Miss Quentin—Caddy’s illegitimate daughter—down to T.P.’s house, where Luster is playing in the dirt. Benjy steals Miss Quentin’s toy, and when she gets upset, he cries. Roskus reiterates his conviction that the Compsons are unlucky. Dilsey and Roskus talk about the fact that Caddy’s name is not to be mentioned around the house because of the disgrace her promiscuity has brought upon the family. Dilsey puts Benjy and Luster to bed.

We return briefly to the present, 1928. Luster has found a golf ball and Benjy wants to play with it. This returns Benjy to a series of memories about death. The first is from the evening in 1898 when the children had just finished dinner and walked down to Versh’s house. Benjy wants to play with some lightning bugs T.P. has captured in a jar. Frony tells the Compson children that a funeral service is going on in the house. Damuddy has died and Mr. and Mrs. Compson have not yet told the children. Benjy recalls the death of the Compsons’ horse, Nancy, and the buzzards that circled over the carcass afterward. He thinks briefly of Mr. Compson’s death in 1912, then returns to the memory of Damuddy’s death in 1898. The children worry that buzzards might pick at Damuddy’s bones. Caddy is not convinced that a funeral is actually taking place, so she decides to spy on the adults through the parlor window. She climbs a tree and all three of her brothers catch a glimpse of her dirty underwear from below. When Benjy sees Caddy’s soiled clothes he begins to cry again.

Benjy’s memory briefly skips back to his drunken episode with T.P. at Caddy’s wedding in 1910. He then thinks of a scene from 1905 when he became upset at the smell of Caddy’s perfume. In this memory, Jason mocks Caddy for her “prissy dress” and claims that she is trying to act older than her age. Caddy washes off her perfume, but Benjy remains upset. Benjy thinks repeatedly that Caddy smells like trees. This returns him to the moment in 1898 when Caddy is up in the tree spying on the adults. In this memory, Dilsey reaches up, pulls Caddy down from the tree, and scolds the children for being outside past their bedtime.

Back in the present, Luster is still standing with Benjy as he plays in the stream. Luster tells Benjy not to approach the nearby swing because Miss Quentin is there with her boyfriend, the man with the red tie. This makes Benjy recall a time years ago when he saw Caddy and Charlie, her first suitor, kissing on the swing. In this memory, Benjy begins to cry very loudly when Caddy’s suitor approaches. Charlie grows angry at Benjy’s intrusion, which upsets Benjy even more. Caddy takes Benjy up to the house and cries, as she knows Benjy is upset with her for kissing Charlie. Caddy apologizes to Benjy and washes her mouth out with soap.