The Sound and the Fury

William Faulkner
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April Eighth, 1928

Summary April Eighth, 1928


Whoever God is, He would not permit that. I am a lady. You might not believe it from my offspring, but I am.

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It is Easter Sunday, 1928, the day after Benjy’s narration and two days after Jason’s. Dilsey walks up to the Compson house and manages to get the kitchen up and running despite the interference of Mrs. Compson and Luster. Luster tells Dilsey that Jason is angry because someone has broken the window in his room. Benjy eats his breakfast and whimpers. Jason emerges and testily sends Dilsey to call Miss Quentin to breakfast. There is no answer from Miss Quentin’s room. Jason suddenly springs up the stairs, seizes his mother’s keys, and unlocks Miss Quentin’s door. The window is open and Miss Quentin is gone.

As Dilsey tries to comfort Mrs. Compson, Jason rushes to his strongbox and finds that it has been forced open. His papers are there, but all his money is gone. Jason calls the police and asks them to send a deputy to the house. He storms out. Meanwhile, Dilsey takes Luster, Frony, and Benjy to an Easter service at the local black church, where Reverend Shegog gives a boisterous sermon about the life and death of Christ. When they return to the house, they find that Jason still has not returned. Jason has gone to see the sheriff to demand help in tracking down Miss Quentin. However, the sheriff is suspicious of Jason’s claim and sharply critical of the way he runs the Compson family. The sheriff refuses to help without more substantial evidence of Miss Quentin’s wrongdoing.

Jason gasses up his car and goes to find Miss Quentin. On the way, Jason thinks about Lorraine, his mistress in Memphis. This thought reminds him of how angry he is to have been ripped off by a woman yet again. Jason drives to the town where the minstrel show is stopping next, since he believes that Miss Quentin’s lover—the man with the red tie—works for the show. Jason rudely asks an old man where Miss Quentin and her lover are, but the old man takes offense and becomes violent, and Jason knocks him down. Jason tries to leave, but the old man comes after him with a hatchet. The man who runs the minstrel show rapidly leads Jason around the corner and convinces him that Miss Quentin and her lover are not there. Jason pays a black man to drive him back to Jefferson.

Back in town, Luster is driving Benjy in the carriage. As they arrive at the cemetery, Luster deviates from the usual course T.P. used to take, and Benjy begins howling at the unfamiliar route. Jason comes across Luster and Benjy. He hits Luster across the head, ordering him never to turn off the route Benjy is used to taking, and strikes Benjy in an attempt to quiet him. Benjy continues to howl. However, as Luster drives Benjy home, the familiar façades, doorways, windows, signs, and trees of the town of Jefferson all appear to Benjy in their ordered place, and he finally quiets.

I seed de beginnin, en now I sees de endin.

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The Sound and the Fury ends with the symbolic completion of the Compsons’ downfall, but also hints at the possibility of resurrection or renewal. Importantly, this last chapter takes place on Easter Sunday, the day of Christ’s resurrection and thus a powerful symbol of redemption and hope.

We may expect Caddy to narrate the last section, since she is in many ways the most important character in the novel, and the only one of the Compson children who has not had a chance to speak. However, Faulkner narrates this section himself, from a third--person perspective. This viewpoint takes us a step back from the Compsons’ inner world and provides a more panoramic view of the tragedy that has unfolded. The narrative voice Faulkner adopts is an objective one—similar to Benjy’s in its ability to view the Compson world without resentment, but unlike Benjy’s in that it is omniscient and relies on a more traditional mode of storytelling.