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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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