Review: The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the FuryThe Sound and the Fury
by William Faulkner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sound and the Fury / 0-679-73224-1

Difficult and complex, "The Sound and the Fury" details the slow decline of the American South through the metaphor of the fictional Compson family. In order to intensify the complexity of the novel, Faulkner treats the reader to a trio of unreliable narrators: three brothers who are alternately mentally incapable, suicidal, or intensely cruel. Because of this, our impressions of the Compson family (and of the pivotal sister, Caddy, who is notably never given her own voice) must emerge from these flawed and broken narratives by attempting to find common ground between all three.

The enigmatic Caddy is a lynch-pin for the family, and her character shifts distinctly between the narrators. For one brother, she is a sweet angel who gently cares for her mentally incompetent brother and eases his troubled childhood; for another, she is a promiscuous young woman who commits incest with her suicidal older brother so that he can share her "shame"; for another, she is a stupid woman, easily tricked into giving away guardianship of her infant daughter. Faulkner withholds Caddy's own voice from us, and leaves the reader wondering if she is any or none of these things - how clearly can we view a persona who has only been defined to us by the neuroses that plague her brothers? And yet, as a member of the Compson family, it is far from a given that Caddy's voice would necessarily be any more trustworthy than the mental ramblings and confused remembrances of her brothers.

~ Ana Mardoll

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