Sound And Fury Essay, Research Paper
Opinions of Caddy
William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury is a novel about a family ties and relationships. Within the novel Faulkner examines family and human relationships and reactions. He presents a southern dysfunctional family, which believes that it has been plagued by problems. The basis for character, plot and title comes from an excerpt from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. (ACT V, SC V)
This quotation sets the stage for most of the novel. The development of the novel and the relationships within the novel takes shape from segments derived from the latter quotation. Faulkner creates all of the characters in the form of Shakespeare’s player. He then adds unique qualities that individualize each character. Each character views things differently then the rest of the family. Even the three brothers obtain and form different opinions about things, especially in regard to their opinions toward Caddy. The novel is split into four different perspectives. Three out of these four are written in the opinions of the brothers. In all of these viewpoints Caddy seems to be the central idea. The first story is told through the eyes of Benjy. Benjy is the least complex character within the novel. His relationship in regard to Caddy is simple and innocent. Benjy is a man-child and Caddy is his caretaker, a safety net. She is the only one that truly views him as a person and not just a hindrance, or punishment. This in return makes Benjy’s opinion of Caddy optimistic. He views her as security and decency. Jason and Caddy’s relationship is distant; the basis for their relationship is purely business and money. Jason and Caddy’s relationship is very different then that of her and her other two brothers. Quentin and Caddy are extremely close to one another, sometimes almost intimate. They are very similar to each other, except Quentin is a more tragic character then Caddy. Overall, Caddy and her relationships with her brothers are the focal point of The Sound and the Fury. The three brothers present several controversial opinions concerning their sister, Caddy. With all three of the brothers there are conflicting opinions that are presented within their stories. In the three perspectives of the brothers the final opinions of Caddy are overwhelmingly negative opinions.
Faulkner allows each brother to tell his views on life and different occurrences that affect him. Benjy is the first out of the three to do so. Benjy’s opinions of Caddy differ as time and the novel progress. Benjy’s sense, or lack there of, of time helps to explore the roots of his opinions of Caddy. His sense of time allows us to compare his opinion of Caddy as a child with his opinion of Caddy at that present moment. Within the family Benjy was viewed as a nuisance and a curse. The only person that would have anything to do with him whole-heartedly was Caddy. Caddy did not view Benjy as the others did. Instead, she saw him as a human being, a perfectly useful and good person. This is reflected in Benjy’s opinion of Caddy and in his relationship with her. Benjy views Caddy as innocence and purity. Often Caddy was the only one that Benjy allowed to calm him. However, his opinion of her changed as time progressed. As children Benjy was soothed by her presence and her smell. As they approached adulthood the contrary was true. The way Caddy smelled had the power to either calm, or upset Benjy. This transformation and his reaction toward Caddy’s presence mark the transformation in his opinion of Caddy. As children Benjy viewed Caddy as an equal, his reaction to her was always positive. However as Caddy and Benjy grew, Benjy began to feel left behind and distant from Caddy. He no longer viewed her as an equal, or safety net. His opinion of her changed from containing positive connotation to negative connotation. The change in his attitude and opinion toward Caddy is shown by the change in Caddy’s smell (maturity) and Benjy’s reaction to that change.
Caddy put her arms around me, and her shining veil, and I couldn’t smell trees anymore and I began to cry. (Pg. 40)
Throughout Benjy’s segment of the novel his opinion of Caddy progresses and changes as time advances. It changes from a positive opinion of Caddy being an innocent equal to a negative opinion of her changing and leaving Benjy behind. She is no longer a safety net to him, but the cause of his outbursts.
Benjy’s relationship with Caddy is simple in comparison to Quentin’s. Both Quentin’s and Benjy’s opinions and relationship with Caddy begin positively and end negatively. Quentin and Caddy seemed to be “like” souls. They are similar in their reactions and sensitivity to life.
I held the point of the knife to her throat
It wont take but a second then I can do mine I can do mine then
All right can you do yours by yourself…
Will you close your eyes
No like this youll have to push it harder
Touch your hand to it
But she didn’t move her eyes were wide open looking past my head at the sky…
Push it are you going to
Do you want me to
Yes push it
Touch your hand to it (pg. 152)
Because of their similarities and intimate bond Quentin is torn in his opinions towards Caddy. He loves her and respects her, but he does not respect her actions. Quentin views Caddy as a part of him, which forms a positive opinion. However, when she becomes sexually involved with Dalton Ames, and other men, Quentin is ashamed. Consequently, this forms a negative opinion of Caddy, which Quentin carries to his grave. Emotionally Quentin and Caddy are linked. Therefore in his opinion Caddy’s mistakes are his own. His shame and guilt form a negative opinion toward the end of his life, which later propel him toward suicide.
Benjy and Quentin both had opinions and relationships with Caddy that differed greatly. Jason’s opinions and relationship with Caddy were immensely different from that of Benjy and Quentin. Jason’s opinion of Caddy was negative from the start. As children Caddy and Jason would bicker and fight incessantly. Caddy, in Jason’s opinion was the disgrace of the family and he viewed her in the lowest of regards in all ways, save one. The sole positive aspect of Caddy in Jason’s opinion was that she was willing to supply him with finances. Caddy left Jason to raise Quentin (girl), which Jason also resented her for. However, Jason was willing to drop all his standards and except Caddy if it was for his own self-gain.
‘Jason’ she says, looking at the grave, ‘if you’ll fix it so I can see her a minute I’ll give you fifty dollars.’… ‘I’ll give you a hundred’… ‘Sure I’ll do it.’ (Pg. 204)
The extent of Jason’s love of money is boundless, to the point where he would drop all of his standards and lie to his mother in order to get more of it. His opinions, although, were unchanged by her contributions. However, now he had a use for her and for Quentin (girl) and didn’t want to let either one of them go.
Overall, the opinions of the three brothers toward Caddy varied greatly, but all had negative connotations involved. In the end of both Quentin and Benjy’s perspectives, their opinions of Caddy are negative. Caddy is the cause of their pain, or discomfort. For Jason Caddy was always held in the lowest regards and his opinion remained unchanged. Each brother obtained different opinions of Caddy, but all of them held strong similarities to each other.