The Sound and the Fury is considered William Faulkner’s greatest achievement. It tells the story of the tragic Compson family as they basically deteriorate.
This novel isn’t an easy read. At least, the first two sections that is. The first section is from Benjy’s point of view – a mentally disabled man with the mind of a three year old. He also has no concept of time. But I have to say, after a while Benjy’s section is easy to figure out. I liked Benjy and felt sorry for him, he’s the kind of character that you just want to hug.
The second section, with the intelligent and haunted Quentin, is the hardest. I have to admit that reading this section was torturous for me – I just wanted it to end. In fact, it’s probably the main reason I give this book only three stars. Quentin is probably the most tragic figure in the whole book but I can’t say I like being inside his head.
The third section deals with the mean-spirted Jason. His section is easy to read, and it’s sometimes funny. Jason is basically supposed to represent the modern southern man; which Faulkner wasn’t too fond of. And you’ll see why, as he fits the stereotype of the bigoted southerner.
The last section is my favorite. It’s told in third person and focuses on the Compson’s black housekeeper, Dilsey. When Faulkner is writing in third person, it’s beautiful. I was fully engrossed in this part of the novel. I don’t care for Stream of Conscience type writing (in most cases) which is why I hated Quentin’s section so much.
Dilsey is also an okay character but she falls in line with the “mammy” stereotype. I don’t think Faulkner had racist intentions though, since he did have respect for the African American community.
As for the overall reading experience, I can’t say I liked it all that much. Another issue I have is that the story didn’t feel complete – it’s very fragmented. I’d prefer a whole portrait of the Compson family since their story is tragic.
The Sound and the Fury is definitely better than one of the other Faulkner novels I read, As I Lay Dying (I strongly dislike that book). But the reading experience wasn’t enjoyable to me throughout most of the book.
…I’m still going to try Faulkner’s other novels!