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The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury


by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury Chapter 4 Summary

  • Dilsey leaves her cabin early in the morning, dressed in an old maroon cape and a dress of purple silk.
  • The day is grey and misty as she walks out past the house.
  • Dilsey was once a strong, large woman. Now her skeleton seems to have caved in upon itself, her breast drooping and her shoulders hunched.
  • Turning, she enters the house again and comes back out in a man’s hat, an army overcoat, and a gingham dress.
  • She picks up wood and carries it into the main house.
  • In the house, Mrs. Compson is already calling for her.
  • She stands at the head of the stairs, holding a water bottle. She wants it filled.
  • Calmly, Dilsey soothes her (almost as if she’s a child) and then moves on with her chores.
  • Dilsey says she’ll build the fire. Luster overslept – he was at the show all night.
  • Mrs. Compson says that Luster needs to pull his own weight – otherwise, Jason will get angry.
  • Dilsey says that Luster definitely didn’t go to the show with Jason’s money (remember the burning tickets?).
  • Going into the kitchen, Dilsey starts the fire.
  • She calls out the door to wake Lester up, then starts to prepare biscuits for breakfast.
  • Luster appears at the kitchen door, and Dilsey sends him up to take care of Benjy.
  • As Dilsey sifts flour for the biscuits, she begins to hum a wordless tune.
  • Mrs. Compson calls again, and Dilsey remembers the hot water bottle. She fills it and takes it to Mrs. Compson, but apparently Mrs. Compson wanted someone to look after Benjy.
  • Dilsey starts to climb the stairs to get Benjy herself.
  • As it turns out, Benjy isn’t even awake yet. Mrs. Compson was just causing trouble.
  • Without a word, Dilsey turns and heads back down to the kitchen.
  • At eight, Benjy enters. He’s got a large frame, one apparently held together without any internal principles of coherence.
  • His hair is dull and brushed-over, and his eyes stare blankly into the distance.
  • Luster, trying to warm his feet at the stove, tells Dilsey that Jason accused him of breaking the window of Jason’s room.
  • Luster insists he never broke the window. After all, Jason locks his room all day.
  • They realize that Quentin hasn’t unlocked her door yet this morning.
  • When Mrs. Compson unlocks the door, the room is empty.
  • Jason, of course, leaves immediately.
  • Chasing after Quentin? Nope. He runs to see if his money is missing.
  • It turns out that it is.
  • While Dilsey and Mrs. Compson worry about Quentin, Jason calls the police.
  • He’s pretty sure, though, that the police aren’t going to do their job in a timely fashion.
  • And he needs "that little bitch" tracked down.
  • Now.
  • It’s a lovely way to think of your niece, huh?
  • Jason rushes into his car.
  • As the house quiets down, Dilsey gets ready to go to church.
  • She puts on her nice dress and warns Luster not to wear his new hat.
  • With Benjy in tow, they meet Frony on the road.
  • Frony doesn’t want to bring Benjy to church.
  • It turns out that people have been talking about a white man going to a black church.
  • Dilsey dismisses this as silly. It’s good for Benjy to be in the presence of God.
  • Also, Benjy likes the singing.
  • There’s a visiting pastor at church.
  • Everyone waits expectantly for him to arrive.
  • When the pastor passes, however, they’re all very disappointed. He’s a shriveled little man.
  • He’s not at all what they expect from a famous pastor.
  • When the minister begins to speak, people are even more disappointed.
  • He sounds like a Northerner.
  • Pretty soon, mostly everybody is ignoring him.
  • All of a sudden, though, the man’s language (and his accent) begins to change.
  • As his preaching becomes more dynamic, the congregation gets into his message.
  • The minister preaches about redemption.
  • Dilsey begins to cry.
  • When Frony tries to hush her, Dilsey says that she’s seen the "first and the last" of the Compsons.
  • Back at home, Mrs. Compson is whining up in her room.
  • Jason hasn’t gotten back yet.
  • Dilsey goes to pick up Mrs. Compson’s Bible (it dropped on the floor).
  • Dilsey and Luster sit down to dinner.
  • While they’re eating, Jason returns with the sheriff.
  • Jason wants to take off after his niece right away.
  • The sheriff’s inclined to think the whole situation is pretty funny.
  • After all, it’s apparent that Jason isn’t managing his family so well.
  • Furious, Jason leaves without the sheriff.
  • He’ll find the kid himself. And when he does….
  • As he drives, he gets sick. He can’t stand the odor of the car.
  • Once Jason arrives at the circus trailers, he barges into one.
  • After all, it’s not like someone else owns them or anything.
  • As it turns out, the owner is actually in the car.
  • That’s OK with Jason. He can grill the guy about Quentin and her circus man.
  • The guy doesn’t know anything about them.
  • Jason, however, is sure that the dude is lying. To prove that he’s lying, Jason starts to smack him around.
  • He knocks the man out.
  • Hmm. Violence, my friend, is not the answer.
  • Just don’t tell that to Jason.
  • At this point, Jason’s head hurts too much to drive.
  • He pays a guy to drive him back to Jefferson.
  • Cut back to the Compson house: Luster is taking care of Benjy.
  • He takes Benjy down to the fence by the golf course.
  • When Benjy hears the golfers calling "caddie," he starts to bellow.
  • Luster, irritated that Benjy won’t shut up, decides to give him something to bellow about.
  • He whispers Caddy’s name over and over, urging Benjy to yell.
  • Sure enough, Benjy does.
  • Dilsey hears them and yells at Luster.
  • It’s Sunday, so it’s Benjy’s day to drive out to the cemetery.
  • Luster says that he can drive. He won’t do anything funny.
  • Yup. We believe that one.
  • Sure enough, as soon as Luster gets out of sight of the house, he starts to whip the horse.
  • Queenie, the horse, bolts.
  • Benjy starts to whimper.
  • As they get to the square, Luster decides to have some fun. He whips Queenie and starts to rush around the town square.
  • Unfortunately, he’s going around the wrong way.
  • Benjy’s bellowing. Loud. He stands up so that he can bellow louder.
  • Jason rushes out of his car, furious that other people might be watching.
  • He smacks Luster and begins to drive the carriage himself.
  • Benjy calms down.

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