The Sound and the Fury, a novel written by William Faulkner, does not leave itself open to casual reading. It is a book that demands the full attention of the reader throughout the book and must be accompanied by some sort of aid in order for the audience to gain a full and complete understanding of the plot of the book. Its four distinct sections are each given from a different narrator. Each one of these narrators adds a different angle to the story, a new perspective on the scenario that is taking place. These narrators come from different intellectual, cultural, and emotional backgrounds. Each has their own, explicitly-defined position on the issue involving the character Caddy, and each sees a different solution to the chaos. These opinions give the book its fullness and bind it together. Each individual section could not succeed in its goal without the views given in the other sections. They all work together to for m the complete work.
The first section is narrated from Benjy’s mind. Unfortunately for the reader, Benjy is mentally incapable of clear thought. In other words, this section of the book appears to be a jumbled mess of sounds and senses at first glance. However, this section can be “translated” to make some kind of sense. Once this happens, the story does make sense and does serve a purpose. The main conflict of the story revolves around Caddy’s promiscuity. Each character takes some position regarding this fact. Benjy, as retarded as he is, is the only one capable of telling an unbiased version of the story. Because he cannot think rationally enough to decide a position on the matter, he can give some sense of neutrality to the situation. This is the purpose of the “Benjy Section.”
Quentin, another of Caddy’s brothers, is the narrator of the second section. While his section does involve “stream-of-consciousness,” it is not nearly as complicated to read as Benjy’s section is. Quentin is a young man who is extremely smart. In fact, he is so smart that he attends Harvard University. He, as sick and disgusting as it may sound, is upset that Caddy lost her virginity to someone other than himself. This shows that he is not completely and wholly thinking as well. However, his purpose can only be met if this is the case. His point of view favors Caddy. The only one possibly capable of favoring and defending such an atrocious act would be an individual that is absorbed with that person. Hence, Quentin sees Caddy as an innocent girl who fell into the wrong crowd.
The third section of the book is given from Jason’s perspective. There is nothing unusual about the format of this section and is, comparatively, easy reading. He hates Caddy, her actions, and those associated with her. He is a bitter individual who tended to stay by himself as a child and is isolated as an adult as well. He serves his literary purpose by acting like he would normally act – bitter. His perspective is one of cruelty and hatred toward Caddy and disgust toward the rest of the Compson family. In this perspective, he creates the other extreme opinion in the book that counters Quentin’s. This was Faulkner’s purpose in creating Jason.
The final section of the book is devoted to Dilsey’s point of view. She is the black servant for the Compsons. She has witnessed the decline of Caddy’s morals as well as the decline of the family as a whole. She, however, seems to be the only rational and normal character in the book. She accepts each character for who they are and attempts to impress this belief upon the children. This is her designated purpose. She is to show that stability can survive in the midst of chaos.
Faulkner used each of the four points of view to bring the story to a complete disclosure. Without any one of these sections, the novel would be incomplete and its purpose left unfulfilled. They all work together, as diverse as they may be, to bring about the common end.