The Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury
by William Faulkner
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The Sound and the Fury Theme of Sexuality and Sexual Identity

If virginity is at the heart of Southern values, then growing up and exploring sexual identities becomes a pretty difficult business – at least, it is for the Compsons. Tangled in the sense of right and wrong promoted by the older generation, the Compson children have to fight their way out of oppressive (and even impossible) circumstances. Sex is the undiscussed heart of the novel – if only because Caddy, the runaway daughter, throws all social and sexual mores to the wind. Struggling to overcome the devastation of Caddy’s loss, her brothers find it impossible to discover their own sexuality outside of their relationship(s) to their sister.

Questions About Sexuality and Sexual Identity

  1. It’s pretty obvious that Quentin’s sexuality revolves around his understanding of and feelings for Caddy. Is this true of the other Compson brothers? Why or why not?
  2. Why exactly is Quentin so bound up in his emotions about Caddy’s sexuality?
  3. Mrs. Compson thinks that Quentin (Jr.) is an exact replica of her mother, Caddy. Do you agree? How does she seem different than Caddy?
  4. Does Benjy have a sexual identity? What in the text leads you to your conclusion?

Chew on This

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

The Sound and the Fury is a meditation on the ways that Southern morality interferes with developing a sexual identity.

Quentin Compson’s sexual identity is a reflected one: he only experiences his own sexuality via that of his sister, Caddy.

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