Study Guide

The Sound and the Fury Family

By William Faulkner


This is a novel about family – but more than that, it’s about a family in a freefall. An alcoholic father, a worthless uncle, a whining mother, and four curious children: the Compsons sound like a stock TV family, right? Well, not exactly. Through the perspectives of multiple characters, Faulkner creates a text that explores the ties between family members and the long-standing tensions that pull apart families. Although the Compson family is ostensibly the center of the novel, it’s also a novel of individuals – characters isolated even from those who know them best.

Questions About Family

  1. How do the Gibsons fit into the Compson family?
  2. Mrs. Compson is convinced that calling her mentally handicapped son after her brother will bring bad luck to the family. How does changing Benjy’s name affect the other children in the Compson family?
  3. Does Caddy’s daughter, Quentin, feel any sense of connection to any of her family members?
  4. Is Jason’s hatred of all his family members believable? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Although the members of the Compson family are all very different, they share the same moral convictions.

By refusing to allow Caddy’s voice to enter into The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner assures that she’ll remain the central figure of the novel.