Study Guide

The Sound and the Fury Home

By William Faulkner


They were hitting little, across the pasture. I went back along the fence to where the flag was. It flapped on the bright grass and the trees. (1.4)

Benjy’s recognition of the loss of his field is one of the first observations we’re given in the novel (although his perspective doesn’t allow us to understand his description as a form of loss).

How long he had been there I didn't know, but he sat straddle of the mule, his head wrapped in a piece of blanket, as if they had been built there with the fence and the road, or with the hill, carved out of the hill itself, like a sign put there saying You are home again. (2.56)

The sight of a black man on the road becomes a universal symbol of home for Quentin. Stereotypical? Yes. Racist? Well, we’re really not sure.

He lay on the ground under the window, bellowing. We have sold Benjy's pasture so that Quentin may go to Harvard (2.89)

The family sells Benjy’s land to a golf course in order to buy Quentin’s education, which is supposed to be the hope of the family’s future…which is part of why his suicide is so traumatic for the Compsons.

Only our country was not like this country. There was something about just walking through it. A kind of still and violent fecundity that satisfied even bread-hunger like. Flowing around you, not brooding and nursing every niggard stone. (2.228)

To Quentin, the very land of the North seems like alien territory. The light, the heat, and the dust are all recurring themes in his interior monologue – they’re actually different in "this country."

Some days in late August at home are like this, the air thin and eager like this, with something in it sad and nostalgic and familiar. (2.341)

We’re not quite sure how air can contain so much emotion, but Quentin seems more than willing to invest lots of emotional capital in how different the land of the North is from that of the South.

The earth immediately about the door was bare. It had a patina, as though from the soles of bare feet in generations, like old silver or the walls of Mexican houses which have been plastered by hand. Beside the house, shading it in summer, stood three mulberry trees, the fledged leaves that would later be broad and placid as the palms of hands streaming flatly undulant upon the driving air. (4.3)

OK. This is a house. But note how different the narrator’s voice is when describing Dilsey’s house here: the diction is clean and simple, the syntax straightforward. It’s pretty different from descriptions of the Compson house, right?

[…] she says Thank God if he had to be taken too, it is you left me and not Quentin. Thank God you are not a Compson, because all I have left now is you and Maury and I says, Well I could spare Uncle Maury myself. (3.182)

Uncle Maury’s the token useless family member in this novel. Everybody hates him – except, of course, his sister (Mrs. Compson).

It was not a girl's room. It was not anybody's room, and the faint scent of cheap cosmetics and the few feminine objects and the other evidences of crude and hopeless efforts to feminise it but added to its anonymity, giving it that dead and stereotyped transience of rooms in assignation houses. (4.146)

By the time Quentin grows up, the Compson house has become anything but a home. Her room is a reflection of this – it’s completely impersonal.

"Come on, sister." (2.401)

The little girl Quentin meets on his walk immediately becomes his "sister." Ironically, this backfires on him: his attempts to take care of the girl land him in jail.

He needs to be sent to Jackson, Quentin said. How can anybody live in a house like this. (1.938)

This is Quentin Jr., of course. By the time she’s a teenager, Benjy has become more of a fixture in the house than a family member.