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The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury

by William Faulkner

Sin Theme

For the characters of The Sound and the Fury, sin is almost always related to sex. In fact, at times the two are synonymous. A daughter’s blossoming sexuality becomes the tipping point which throws an entire family into chaos. Even though sex is at the center of the novel, it’s something that the characters can’t address fully. If they admit that someone has moved beyond the morals preached by older generations, then they’re left navigating unknown territory – something which moves one brother to madness and another to all-consuming rage. Sin, we learn, is a relative term – one that changes according to the shifting perspectives of individual characters.

Questions About Sin

  1. Does Quentin actually believe that Caddy’s actions are sinful? If not, why is he so upset?
  2. Why does the message Dilsey hears from the Reverend Shegog affect her so deeply?
  3. Why does Jason refuse to allow Quentin (Jr.) to see her own mother? What affect does this have upon Quentin?
  4. What, according to Mrs. Compson, is the greatest sin a person can commit?

Chew on This

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

Caddy’s sin isn’t that she’s sexually promiscuous – it’s that her promiscuity undercuts her ability to behave as a "lady."

Because he’s not mired in notions of morality or right and wrong, Benjy Compson remains the one character able to articulate his relationship with Caddy in terms of love.

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