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MonkeyNotes-The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
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Notes

The last chapter is both the shortest and only chapter written in a third-person voice. The events take place on Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection. Though the chapter is narrated by the authorial omniscient voice, much of the action centers on the difference between Dilsey and Jason. In fact, the opening pages contain a detailed description of the old black cook as she tries to begin the day. Of all the characters, Dilsey is the most Christian. She possesses none of the vicious and troubled characteristics of any of the Compsons, though she has been with them forever. She is consistently a caregiver, a good woman who only wants peace and harmony. She takes Benjy to church. She forgives Caddy and has a large reserve of sympathy and love for Benjy. Jason, on the other hand, is the least Christian. He is unnecessarily rough, cruel. He is vicious. In this omniscient chapter, Dilsey and Jason are the only characters on whom the narrative focuses explicitly.

There is a great satisfaction in the outcome of events as displayed in this chapter. Jason tries to assert his vicious authority once again, but he is thwarted. The last great spirit of the Compson family has risen from the dead and thrown his cruelty back in his face. Jason, as a kind of Satan figure, does not know how to deal with Quentin's victory (or Caddy's symbolic resurrection). His impotence in the face of her defiance nearly kills him in more ways than one.


There are a couple of highly symbolic and charged elements in this section. One is the old family clock, the chiming of which is not strictly in accordance with time. For instance, when the clock chimes five times, it is 8 o'clock. Dilsey is the only one who knows the time, whatever the chiming. The defective clock is symbolic of the degeneration of the Compson family. The once great family is lost, and only their old black cook knows the truth. The other symbolic element is the final incident, which is a dramatic confrontation between the two remaining Compson brothers. Neither Jason, who believes that he can live by pure reason alone, nor Benjy, who has no reason at all, function as fully human. Jason has tried to control his family, to maintain an order that is strictly of his doing. He has failed. Benjy is a creature of order. When Luster turns the carriage to the left, Benjy is instinctively shocked and begins to bellow, because the storehouses and buildings are moving in the reverse order. Jason, back from his fruitless chase and furious with himself and the world, sees his idiot brother reacting to the disorder of the world in a way that he has not been able to, and he cannot handle it. He takes the family home, and eventually puts Benjy in an insane asylum, perhaps because only Benjy fully understands when the world is ordered and when it is messed up.

In short, the Compson family is the embodiment of the South after the war. The values that once held a great family together have somehow gotten lost in the chaos of the post-war, emancipated world. Slowly, the decay of the family spreads, till there is nothing left but the sound and fury of the idiot's cries.

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