The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner


“I’d have wasted a lot of time and trouble before I learned that the best way to take all people, black or white, is to take them for what they think they are, then leave them alone.”

The story of the Compson Family is told in The Sound and the Fury. Broken down into four chapters, the reader is given glimpses into their lives through four points of view. The first is from the “idiot” brother Benjy, then the second goes back in time with brother Quentin, the third is from another brother Quentin, and the final chapter is from their servant Dilsey. The narrative is written in a train-of-thought style, which helps develop the character, but can make the story hard to follow. By starting off seeing the family from the point of view of Benjy, the reader is left with many questions of what reality might be.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner is one of the classics. I’ve added several Faulkner books to my to-read list after reading a book of his short stories this summer. I found his writing style and characters very engaging and deep. However, while I found the characters in this book interesting and well-developed, I had a hard time following the plot. I actually had to look up a plot summary to see if I was getting the facts straight.

The three brothers all try and deal with the choices of their parents and sister. Their parents are not very active in their lives and their sister becomes pregnant without a possible husband in sight. She tries to marry someone but he soon divorces her once he finds out she is pregnant with someone else’s child. She runs off but her daughter is left to be raised by her parents and brothers, mainly Jason, who then starts to resent everything and everyone in life – especially because as the child gets older, she starts to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

This book is a classic as it examines Southern life post Civil War, but it needs time to digest and can’t be read quickly. It may help to listen to the book so you can hear the speech of the characters instead of reading dialect. I would say the book is for high school students or older adults as there are references to promiscuity, incest and suicide.

Buy the book here (affiliate link).

About Sarah Anne Carter

Sarah Anne Carter is a writer and reader. She grew up all over the world as a military brat and is now putting down roots with her family in Ohio. Family life keeps her busy, but any spare moment is spent reading, writing or thinking about plots for novels.