In this novel, innocence comes in strange forms. There’s the mother who preaches a sort of rigid withdrawal from life, a son whose attempts to speak result in forced castration, and a son so obsessed with innocence that he kills himself to stop thinking about it. As Mr. Compson says, innocence can only be recognized once it’s been lost. That doesn’t mean, however, that people won’t chase the ideal it represents forever. No coming of age story is complete without a loss of innocence; in The Sound and the Fury, we have loss upon loss upon loss.
Quentin’s emotional breakdown at the end of his section results not from anger at the loss of Caddy’s innocence but despair at the loss of his own.
The image of Caddy’s muddy drawers is the key to the novel because it confuses temporality, combining innocence with evidence of later guilt.