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The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury


by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury Theme of Guilt and Blame

Your crummy fate is always easier to take if you blame it on someone else, right? Well, if you agree, this book’s for you. We’ve counted so many different layers and permutations of blame in The Sound and the Fury that, well, we’ve lost count. There’s the guilt of being a virgin and the guilt of not being a virgin. There’s the shame of staying at home and the guilt involved in leaving. In other words, there are no easy choices. So racked by fear of themselves that they can’t begin to see what they might really want, characters in this text cast around for someone – anyone –to blame for their problems.

Questions About Guilt and Blame

  1. Why doesn’t Mrs. Compson like her granddaughter Quentin?
  2. Who (or what) does Mr. Compson blame for Caddy’s pregnancy?
  3. Is Jason justified in blaming Caddy for his current situation? Why or why not?
  4. What does Mrs. Compson gain by blaming the failure of the family on her own faults?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Guilt becomes the most important mechanism for individual characters’ emotional development in The Sound and the Fury.

Quentin’s futile attempts to protect all women are actually ways of lashing out at Caddy for her refusal to accept his help.

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