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The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury

by William Faulkner

Principles Theme

Trying to figure out what’s right and wrong leads an entire family to rip itself apart, individual by individual. Faulkner creates character after character who try to figure out how to play a game that seems to have stacked dice – life never quite gives up what it once promised to, people never quite satisfy your expectations. OK, so the world’s totally screwed up. What now? We get to see four different characters’ unique responses to the challenge of all challenges – how to get by from day to day. Sure, there are overarching codes of conduct (that of the Southern gentleman), but they just don’t seem to fit the modern world.

Questions About Principles

  1. Why does Mrs. Compson stick to her notions of Southern gentility and morality?
  2. How greatly do Mrs. Compson’s ideas of human nature differ from her husband’s?
  3. Is Quentin influenced by his mother’s opinion of Caddy? How?
  4. For Dilsey, the doctrines of Christianity provide the principles by which she lives. What are the sources of other characters’ principles?

Chew on This

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

Although Mrs. Compson is one of the most ineffectual characters in the novel, her ideas of morality and sexuality shape the novel more than any other characters’ ideas.

Gerald Bland, the perfect Southern gentleman, becomes an alternate possibility that the novel holds out for Quentin’s future – one which demonstrates Quentin’s alienation from traditional Southern values.

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