The Sound and the Fury
by William Faulkner
Character Role Analysis
Benjy’s not your typical protagonist. For one thing, he doesn’t speak – he smells the things he knows. For another, he’s got no real sense of time. Past, present, and future are all interwoven in one big, sliding jumble of memories. Why’s he a protagonist, then? Well, for one thing, he gets his own section of the novel. For another, his narrative moves back and forward, weaving together a story of his life, which fits together into a complete emotional picture of his changing situation.
Quentin tries desperately to be a knight in shining armor. Of course, he’s got a few problems. For one thing, Caddy doesn’t want to be saved. For another, every time Quentin tries to pick a fight, he ends up blacking out. OK, so he’s not the greatest hero. But he does develop a pretty impressive (and impossible) sense of morality and responsibility. Those are big words, we know. They might just be too big for Quentin to handle. That failure is, for Faulkner, part of being a real person.
Let’s face it: Dilsey puts up with a lot. She takes care of people who pretty much ignore her, and she still manages to feel responsible for (and care for) all of them. More importantly, Dilsey’s the only character who finds some kind of peace at the end of the novel. She’s got to get major protagonist points for that.