Concluding The Sound and the Fury!

A central insight of the stream of consciousness technique – and of modernist fiction generally – is how deeply subjective and distinct individual experience is. This contradicts the assumptions of realist fiction—that a supremely objective omniscient perspective is possible. Faulkner has said that The Sound and the Fury was an effort to tell a story, and that each section of the novel is a new attempt (and in his modest view, a failure)—a new attempt because from a different perspective. Each perspective adds new layers to, and comments on and contradicts and reaffirms, to various degrees, the perspective of the others.

 

Contemptuous of the family honor and name, and the moral codes that Quentin was obsessed with, Jason Compson is nevertheless attached to the racist, sexist, aristocratic hierarchy of the Old South, and retains the sense of entitlement and prejudices of that tradition. We get to know him—whether we want to or not!—through the same first-person technique of stream of consciousness that Faulkner uses to develop his brothers’ characters. We get to know Dilsey not through first-person stream of consciousness, however—and it may feel like a great relief to get out of the Compson brothers’ heads! At the same time, we can never see any of the those characters simply, because we have been inside their minds, and made to deeply identify with them, whether we want to or not, because that’s what reading a first-person stream of consciousness narrative does.

 

Please answer these questions about the third and fourth sections of the novel.

 

  • How does Jason’s narration compare to Benjy’s and Quentin’s, in terms of dwelling on the present versus the past? What seems to trigger memories for him, compared to his brothers? Cite and analyze evidence.

 

  • How does Jason’s section of the novel help you understand the first two sections better, including the Compson family history? How does it change your judgment of Benjy, Quentin, Caddy and Quention, Jr., if it does? Cite and analyze evidence.

 

  • The fourth section of the novel, which focuses on Dilsey, is not told from a first-person perspective. Instead, we have a third-person limited omniscient narrator. And what is limited about this narrator’s perspective–especially compared to the three first-person narratives? Overall, how does some degree of intimacy with Dilsey’s perspective and daily life affect our understanding of the previous three sections? Cite evidence.
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58 Comments

  1. 1) It is very evident that Jason’s narrative is strongly influenced by his deep-rooted resentment toward his family. As the remaining patriarch of the family the responsibilities land upon him. The idea of taking care of his sister’s illegitimate child bother him significantly. He seems to be irritated, yet dulled to the irradiation that taking care of benji produces, however, he is significantly bothered by having to tend to Caddy’s daughter Quentin. He also resents his brother Quentin, for having committed suicide and leaving him to care for the family while they fall apart. “I have had the time to be. I never had time to go to Harvard or drink myself into the ground. I had to go to work. But of course if you want me to follow her around and see what she does, I can quite the store and get a job where I work at night.” (pg. 181). It seems that Jason is triggered by anger and jealousy.
    2) Jason’s narrative clearly expresses animosity toward his family and indicates there may be immoral or amoral characteristics about the family. While it is evident that Jason is stuck now at the head of the family, his position is being taken advantage of by his mother as well as builds his resent. “She got pretty wise after that first time. She found out pretty quick that I was a different breed of cat from father.” (Pg. 201) This quote from Jason’s section clearly expresses the emotionality he has towards his mother and family. Jason’s narrative did make me feel more sorrow for the character Benjamin, it is clear via this narrative the level of mistreatment Benjamin has endured.
    3) Dilsey’s section is dramatically different than the previous three. The use of the third-party narrative enhances the reader’s connection to Dilsey. Also, the fact that Dilsey has been present in the previous sections makes her section’s narrative more intimate with the reader. The third-party experience of Dilsey with this family shows how the characters interact, behave and feel with someone they determine to be insignificant and relatively inhuman. The narrative exemplifies the racial prejudice and struggle of house workers at this time. “They went out. Dilsey stood for a while at the table, then she went and cleared the breakfast thinks from the diningroom [sic] and ate her breakfast and cleaned up the kitchen. She then removed her apron and hung it up and went to the foot of the stairs and listened for a moment. There was no sound. She donned the overcoat and the hat and went across to her cabin.” (pg. 287).

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    1. Yes, I agree that Jason’s part is more so focused on the anger and resentment he feels towards his family. Dilsey section does show how the family treats her poorly at the same time that they rely heavily on her. Jason’s feelings for his mother is also prominent in the section as well.

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    2. I agree with you that Jason’s part was all fueled by anger. He is someone who feels very entitled. He thinks he deserves to have this amazing life, but he does nothing to get a better life for example, he just moans and complains all day long. It made him very unlikeable. I also became more sympathetic with Benjy and Disley. They have both been through a lot that was not shown very well in the beginning parts of the novel.

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    3. I agree that Jason’s section was much more focused on anger and resentment that Benjy’s or Quentin’s stories. He definitely resented Qurntin for committing suicide and leaving him in charge of caring for the family. He also seemed to resent his father for being an alcoholic for the same reason.

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    4. i agree, that this section is focused on Jason’s hatred towards his family because he has to carry the burden, now that he is the head of the household. Jason is not like his other brothers, because he is a very angry person and not only that he deceives his mother about the money Caddy sends to her daughter. I enjoy reading your response and i agree that Jason complains about everything that happened to him and puts a blame on Caddy and her daughter.

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    5. I completely agree with your read on Jason’s character. Because his actions are so strong and angry I hadn’t even considered analyzing the actions of other characters in the chapter so it had not occurred to me that perhaps not just a victim his mother is also a willfull participate and user/manipulator feeding into Jason’s resentment. Great insight!

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    6. I agree that Jason’s part of the novel was full of anger and resentment towards his family and as well as not getting what he wants. But what is also true is that his mother kept adding more fuel to that anger making Jason a victim as well. Great response

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  2. 1.Jason’s narration is not like his brothers because Jason doesn’t have italics such as the previous section. You can indicate right away in the beginning of the section that he speaking and his tone is shown as cruel and hatred. He sounds very controlling and he only cares about money. Jason’s memories are trigger when the Caddy sends money for her daughter and remembers the day when she showed up to their father’s funeral and she wanted to see her daughter Quentin Jr, and wouldn’t allow her. She suggested to pay him just to see her a moment “Then I took the raincoat off of her and held her to the window and Caddy saw her and sort of jumped,” Jason is remembering the past and tormenting Caddy and getting her money (135).He resents Caddy for giving a huge burden to the family by leaving Quentin Jr in their hands and left without saying nothing.
    2. I do understand the Jason’s section a little bit better because family’s conflict was Caddy. Caddy becoming pregnant without marriage and leaving home was a huge problem to the family, except Jason he only cared about Caddy’s checks. My judgement did change while reading Jason section because Benjy, Quentin, and Quentin Jr are miserable for not having Caddy in their life and she is the important piece in their lives. Jason is the complete opposite, “Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say. I says you’re lucky if her playing out of school is all that worries you,” he is unhappy and regretful of the past and he would often blame or torment someone (119). This part of the section gave me a different perspective while Benjy and Quentin are in grief of Caddy getting married and leaving them alone, Jason in the other hand doesn’t care about her; however, She was the cause of him losing a job at the bank made him bitter at her and her daughter. “..instead of me having to go way up north for a job they sent the job down here to me..,” Jason had to receive more of the family’s burden (129). He is left with a the family burden which made him more bitter and cruel.
    3.Dilsey section of the novel is on third-person limited omniscient narrator, in which Dilsey focuses through the perspective of the other character’s eyes and feelings. Dilsey doesn’t speak about herself in this section, she is more focus on the characters she is with and is involved in some of the situation with the characters. For example, “his attitude was that of one who goes through the motion of listening in order to deceive himself as to what he already hears,” Dilsey in this situation what involved with Jason and in stopping him from going after Quentin Jr. (183). Unlike the three first-person narratives, she more observant of what is going on and she bring up the past and the present in this section, the more I read it the other characters would have triggered memories about their past; however, Dilsey put balance in the chaos of the family. Dilsey takes Benjy to church, and this shows her faith in God”The preacher had not moved. His arm lay yet across the desk, and he still held that pose while the voice died in sonorous echoes between the walls,” also Dilsey loves Benjy and is not ashamed to take him with her to church, unlike his family (191).

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    1. I did notice the lack of italics in Jason’s section. I completely agree with you that Faulkner did this to exemplify Jason’s hatred and cruelty. It would be interesting to re-read the sections to count how many of the previous narrative’s italicized passages are in reference to Jason.

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    2. Now that you pointed out he doesn’t have italics in his section I can see that part as well. The way Jason feels about his family is different than his brothers because his voice is cruel and filled with hate for them. I believe Disley section does focus more so on the other characters as well and maybe that is because it is her job to focus on the Compsons.

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    3. I also noticed the lack of italics in Jason’s section which suggested to me that Jason is not the type of person to dwell in the past. And the first-person narrative of the last section does show a more observant chapter as opposed to the first three sections.

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    4. That is interesting, I did not pay attention to the lack of italics but it makes sense. Jason is so angry with them that it emphasis how cold he is. I also thought he section was easy to read, but it was so full of hate that it made it bitter and dull to me. I agree Benjy, Quentin, and Quentin Jr miss Caddy dearly and it affects their life in all different ways. This whole story was very sad to me.

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    5. I too noticed the lack of italics in Jason’s section. As you pointed out, we are introduced to Jason’s anger and resentment as soon as the narrative begins. So, it makes sense that there is no italics in his section; it emphasizes his cold, serious nature.

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  3. Reading Jason’s perspective was more uncomfortable than the others because of his intense hatred and disgust of his family. While Benjy and Quentin look on the past with mostly fondness in their hearts, Jason hates everything about his life from the past to the present. There are no italics to portray a transition to the past, but the reader understands when we are in a memory because of the language: “I says what else do you expect except every dam drummer and cheap show that comes to town” (Faulkner 157). It appears most memories have no proper dialogue, just Jason remembering himself saying things. His memories are triggered by anger at his sister as with the quote above; he had just seen a man with a red tie, similar to the one Caddy was having sex with.

    Jason’s perspective gives more insight into the family dynamics, moreso than Benjy’s, because he has a clear mind with clear thoughts. Benjy has rose-colored glasses on when it comes to his family while Jason hates everything. With Quentin, we don’t see more family ties, just his feelings towards Caddy. After reading Jason’s part, Caddy seems like a terrible person who leaves her family to fend for themselves, “I opened up her letter first and took the check out. Just like a woman. Six days late,” including an illegitimate daughter, while sympathy for Benjy only grows considering he had to grow up with a family like this one (Faulkner 125).

    It makes complete sense that Dilsey part would be in third-person because she is technically not a part of the family, but we don’t see the tangents the other characters go off on since third-person narrators don’t use stream of consciousness. We see her love of the family, “She toiled painfully up the steps, shapeless, breathing heavily. ‘I’ll have de fire gwine in a minute, en de water hot in two mo’” (Faulkner 175). With Dilsey’s character, we see more of the bad of other characters, especially Jason and Mrs. Compton, and their complete disregard of Dilsey. It seems as though the first two parts were idealistic is viewing the family and the past while these last two parts show the perhaps more realistic anger and resentment that pervades the family.

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    1. I agree that reading his narrative was uncomfortable, however it was a “necessary evil” used by Faulkner to really express the temperature of society at the time. The social changes occurring at this time also angered and disgusted America.

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    2. Benjy’s point of view does have a rosed colored glasses look to it, but couldn’t Jason’s section be blinded by hate that he feels towards his family? Especially with his attitude towards Caddy and how he treats her and her daughter.

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    3. Yes i agree that this part of the section can be uncomfortable because of the insults Jason puts on the other character. He is a very unlikable character and he only see the bad in everything. He blames the past for giving him a huge burden to his present. Unlike the previous character that obsessed with Caddy, Jason attitude towards her is nothing but hate and bitterness for the burden her put towards the family for becoming pregnant without marriage.

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    4. I completely agree with what you said of Jason and his negative disposition towards his family. He is a man that is tortured by negativity and by his family’s past which he wishes they could reclaim. Also, what you said about Jason’s perspective versus Benjy’s and Quentin’s is correct – they have far different ways of seeing the world and how they make sense of it. I also wrote of Dilsey that she was not part of the family and therefore not deserving of a first-person narrative, according to Faulkner.

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    5. You are so right about feeling uncomfortable whilst reading Jason’s chapter. It’s even worse as the intensity of his hateful thoughts come after Quentin’s more subdued narration. It’s interesting to rationalize Dilsey’s chapter being in third person because she’s “not part of the family” and something I never even considered until now. I suppose it would make sense though to just show how involved she is without going into how the family actually affects her by showcasing her consciousness. Perhaps her not being apart of the family also entails their actions having no long term affect on her being unless its puts her in an immediate forced position (the fight with Jason for example) and thus there is no need for any of her flashbacks that would otherwise (in the case of actual family) give reason for her present behavior.

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    6. i also agree that it was a bit uncomfortable reading Jason’s section, but it also made feel sympathy for him because he had to assumed the head of the household position which he didn’t want. Also we clearly understand the novel better with his narration since it isn’t simple minded as Benjy’s. Great Response

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  4. Jason dwells more on how the past has affected his present state. He does not really care about what has happened in the past except if it directly ruins his personal life. His memories are triggered when he is experiencing something negative in his life. “I says I reckon that’ll show you. I reckon you’ll know now that you cant beat me out of job and get away with it” (p.129), here Jason is upset with Caddy and he thinks about how he believes it is her fault he isn’t working at a bank and he thinks of how he is getting back at her by stealing her money. All of Jason’s memories are fueled by anger.
    Jason’s section brings clarity to the novel. He is not stuck in side his head and tormented like Quentin, and he can express his thoughts unlike Benjy, so we are able to know exactly what has happened to the Compson family. His section confirms that Benjy was castrated, that Quentin killed himself, that their father drunk himself to death, and that Caddy had a baby out of wedlock. In one of his memories Jason thinks of when they got stuck with Miss Quentin, and his mother is speaking saying, “To have my own daughter cast off by her husband. Poor innocent little baby” (p. 125). This confirms that Caddy is separated from her husband because he found out the baby was not his. It changes by judgment of them because it shows that they have all gone through a lot, it made me have more sympathy for them especially Miss Quentin.
    This point of view is limited because we do not have much insight into what anyone is feeling; it is very much an outside perspective. The three other views were very personal compared to these views. It was almost as if I was reading a whole other book when I got to this section because of how impersonal it was. However, this section gave me a new look into what Disley has been through. She has been watching this family for their whole life and she is very much a part of their lives so it made be sad to remember and see the way Jason treated her. It also gave me a perspective into why she was so nice to Miss Quentin.

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    1. I really like what you say about Jason being stuck in his head. He seems to be a simple man that is completely that – tied up in his thoughts. And the tragic thing is he thinks negatively about everything and everyone. If he were to dedicate that sort of motivation towards positivity maybe the Compson family would not be experience such extreme squalor. I like, too, what you say about the last section. As opposed to everyone else’s response, yours is less explicit and more ideological in that it represents the ideas behind it. You are speaking of the metaphysical presence incurred by reading the last section’s narrative. I enjoyed reading your response.

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  5. 1. Jason’s narration is not like his brothers because Jason doesn’t have italics like the previous section. It was a little uncomfortable for me. He had anger, hatred towards his family. You can indicate right away in the beginning of the section that he is the one speaking. His tone is shown as cruel and hatred. To me he sounds controlling and only cared about his money. He had to take care of his sister’s child she had out of wedlock that bother him and made him angry.
    2. When reading Jason’s part I was able to understand it more because it gave more insight to the family and how he had to care for Caddy. Its seems as though Jason hates everything, you can see what his feelings are towards Caddy.
    3. Dilsey part of the novel is in the third person narrator, Here view is a lot different than the first two. She was present in both of the first two sections. This point of view she doesn’t speak about herself her focus is more on the characters and how the characters interacted with each other. She doesn’t speak about herself her focus is more on the characters.

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  6. 1) Compared to both Benjy and Quentin’s, Jason’s narration style is quite straightforward and to the point. If anything, I felt like I read Jason’s sections a lot faster than I did Benjy’s and Quentin’s, but that’s mostly just because the pace of his section is quick. Jason is often irritable, and he often goes back to times whenever his anger fuels his actions. This is evident whenever he tells the reader the time whenever he sets fire to tickets that Luster wanted. Money seems to be Jason’s primary motivation for why he seems so aggressive towards everyone. When Luster says that “I’ll fix dem tires ev’y day for a mont,” Jason simply says that “I need the cash,” (190) even if it’s only just for a nickel. This just shows that no matter what, even if it’s just a small amount, he gains a kick out of people by doing generally mean things to people.

    2) Jason’s section of the novel tells you both not only Jason, who seems to be shunned and mistrusted by all of his siblings, but also about the Compson family’s mother. The mother of the family seems to mostly have loved Jason the most, but not the rest of their children. However, Jason still seems to manipulate everyone within his family, and devilishly so. Jason, for example, keeps the money sent from Caddy to take care of Miss Quentin by forging the checks in his mother’s name. Miss Quentin even acknowledges his distrust for Jason by calling him a “thief”, saying that there’s no way that there’s ten dollars in the letter Caddy sent to her. The most amount of sympathy perhaps is for Benjy, since he was not treated all too well by his siblings except for Caddy, and seeing how Jason acts towards everyone, especially his mother and Caddy, only leaves the mind to imagine how he treats him. You especially see this at the end of the book when Jason slaps Benjy across the head telling him to shut up.

    3) The main limitation is definitely the fact that we don’t get to peer into the Compson family’s minds. The main appeal of the first three parts are that we get to see their stream of consciousness, while in the fourth section this is clearly not the case. However, this section nonetheless still tells us a lot about Dilsey, whom is the servant of the Compson family, and how caring she seems to be especially to Benjy. This is seen whenever both DIlsey and Luster bring him to the black church, when his family wouldn’t bring him at all. You can really tell that Dilsey is quite religous, as when the sermon is going on, “Dilsey sat bolt upright, her hand on Ben’s knee. Two tears slid down her fallen cheeks, in and out of the myriad coruscations of immolation and abnegation and time.” (216)

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    1. I agree with all of your arguments. Reading Jason’s part was quick and intense because of his hatred towards his family and his need for a quick buck. I did enjoy Dilsey’s part since she is so caring and loving of Benjy and Caddy/Quentin, the two people with this story that seem to get the most hate from the family.

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    2. Dilsey’s compassion toward Benjy was something I noticed, too. She seems to be the only one that would protect Benjy against Jason, and would even snip at Luster to teasing him. This is something we were briefly exposed to in Benjy’s own section, but her kindness to Benjy highlights just how hateful of a person Jason is. I know that the stark difference in narration in Dilsey’s section was annoying for some, but by that point in the book, I was exhausted with having to keep up and ending the book in third person narration was a breath of fresh air.

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  7. While Quentin and Benjy’s past more so focus on how their obsessions with Caddy cannot move them onto the present. Jason’s section is more focused on the entire family as a whole than Caddy like the others. He also focuses more so on how he can climb to the top money wise than the others. When Jason focus on the past it is more so of the issues he cannot get over because it caused him to lose his position he believed he should have in the world. “After she was gone I felt better. I say I reckon you’ll think twice before you deprive me of a job that was promised me” (136). He tends to focus more so on what he believes should be handed to him in life more so than working for it himself. He is also the angry sibling and vengeful in his narrative.

    Jason’s narrative also focuses more so on the future and how the past degraded the future. His narrative also showcases more of the mother than his brothers did. The audience gets more of a sense of what type of life the children lived when it came to both their mother and father. “You get in bed and I’ll fix you a toddy…” (132). Here is where the first time we can actually that their father has a problem with alcoholism. Jason section does help me understand the first two sections even more because he gives a deeper look at family issues that more the likely get swept under the rug.

    I believe Disley section is in the third person because she is the one showcasing all the family problems without personal biases like the brothers’. On the other hand, her voice can be in the third person because she doesn’t truly have a voice in the Compson household. She is their servant and has to do what she says a lot. “You go and do what I told you” (181). Jason forces Disley to go wake up Quentin although she doesn’t want to, her voice is unheard and or overlooked.

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    1. I disagree with you about Quentin and Benjy’s POV because I don’t think Benjy was obsessed with Caddy; I think she was probably the only one who was kind to him. Quentin was definitely obsessed with his sister though. I agree that Disley’s story was in third person because she wasn’t a part of the family and didn’t have a strong voice.

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  8. 1. For one thing, Jason seems to be a lot aggressive and bitter than Quentin or Ben. His opening line for his passage is, “Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say” (Faulkner, 119). He probably thinks he has the right to moan and groan because he is the one providing for most of the members of his family. And unlike Ben or Quentin, he does not seem to have any moments of flash backing to his younger days. Jason’s temper seems to be a lot more out of control as well because he snaps at Dilsey and grabs her forcing her to drop a cup (Faulkner, 121). His temper actually scares me and I don’t scare that easily because of a character by itself.

    2. Jason’s point of view does help me understand his family’s dynamic better than Ben’s of Quentin’s. With Ben’s point of view, you can’t really tell what is going on and Quentin’s view is just concerned with Caddy. Although his view point is clouded by anger so I can’t be sure he his view on his family is justified or if it’s just bundled up anger from within himself. Although because of this quote that Dilsey says, “You git in bed and I’ll fix you a toddy…”(Faulkner, 132) that we get some insight that Jason’s father is an alcoholic, so that could be why Jason is so harsh and cold.

    3. Dilsey’s section is different from the first three because we cannot read about the family’s thoughts, but that helps us understand her beliefs on the Compson family. Even though she has been abused and mistreated by the family, she still remains loyal to the family. She especially seems close to Benjy, because she takes him to church to sit in on a sermon. I like her section the most because she isn’t concerned with herself, but rather the character showing that she is unselfish.

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    1. I agree that Dilsey’s section is all around her perception of the Compson family. She does care for the family but mostly with Benjy. Also Jason’s section is geared towards his anger and hatred towards his family. I also think that Jason anger is because he is the only one that supports the family while the others don’t do anything.

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    2. I agree with you, Jason is angry for having to become the head of the household. His opening line in his section does show his anger. He does lose his temper and gets aggressive with Dilsey. Jason’s point of view helps the reader see the problems the family faces in a different way than his other siblings.

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  9. 1) In regards to Jason’s narration in “The Sound and the Fury”, he often reflects upon the concept of time, which is akin to both Benjy’s and Quentin’s sections. For example, both Benjy and Quentin dwell on the past when they see a sensory object or person that reminds them of it. This is true of Jason as well; when he looks at his Uncle’s grave, it reminds him of his childhood: “We stood there, looking at the grave, and then I got to thinking about when we were little and one thing and another and I got to feeling funny again, kind of mad…”. The object that triggers his reminiscence is the grave that he is looking at, similar to when a barn triggers one of Benjy’s memories.
    2) Jason’s section clearly establishes himself as the success of the family. However, it’s clear that he is alienated from the rest of them, due to the horrible way he has treated them during his lifetime. My judgement of the rest of the family is that they all clearly have burdens in their own life, but I believe they exhibit caringness and sympathy much more often than Jason. Although, this does not mean they live free from ignorance. Additionally, Jason’s section helped me to understand the first two sections better because it showed just how badly he treated his own family, including his belittling of Quentin, Luster, his mother, and others. An example of this is when he believes that Caddy cheated him out of a bank position. He says, “I reckon you’ll think twice before you deprive me of a job that was promised me.” It’s clear from the way that Jason thinks that he is bitter and angry, both at his family and the world for what has gone wrong in his life.
    3) Unlike the rest of the sections, which are written in the first person perspective, Dilsey’s section is written in the third person omniscient perspective. Key differences among these perspectives include what is actually being narrated. For example, Dilsey’s section focuses on the feelings and thoughts of the rest of the family, whereas the other sections focus on self reflection and personal insight. Rather than speak about herself, Dilsey chooses to contemplate on the rest of the characters and the situations they are involved in. The limitations that come with this type of narration include the absence of her own personal views and opinions. Above all, Dilsey serves as the peacemaker of the household. Her section reveals that she is truly morally good, much more than the rest of the family, whom dwells on the past and allows it to cloud their judgment of others. She lives in the present, and tries to meet everyone’s needs equally. Her good nature makes it even more clear: the rest of the family is dysfunctional and, at times, evil. Therefore, this justifies her role as a conduit for peace. A telling line of Dilsey’s innocence is when she says “I gwine build de fire myself. Go on now, so you wont wake de others twell I ready.” This proves how willing she is to help and consider others, meanwhile never complaining or thinking about herself in the process.

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    1. I like your first point about time being a trigger for Jason. Although I despised him as a character, it is still interesting that, like his brothers, death sends him into a whirlpool of thought. Anger as a response towards these thoughts was also interesting to think about. He has always been upset at change, but unlike Quentin, who kills himself, he persists on, becoming more and more cynical over time. I thought that this was kind of tragic and sad, actually, since we all have similar frustration for things out of our control, but it is exaggerated with Jason’s rage.

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  10. Jason’s narration is different to Benjy’s and Quentin’s because his section doesn’t contain any italics. However, the readers can clearly tell when the past and present is in motion. Jason dwells on the past because of his hatred towards his family and he makes it very clear that his hatred carries on through the present day. Even his anger is shown right away in his opening line, “Once a bitch, always a bitch, what I say.” Jason’s memories are triggered the same way has the others, through objects such as his Uncle’s grave and his anger towards the family.

    Jason’s section helped me to understand the other two sections because his part focuses on the family issues. His part is clear and realistic in a sense that it shows what the family has gone through and is going through. “I never had time to go to Harvard or drink myself into the ground. I had to work. But of course if you want me to follow her around and see what she does, I can quit the store and get a job where I can work at night. Then I can watch her during the day and you can use Ben for the night shift.” This clearly shows that Jason is the one supporting the family and how hatred is formed because of it. Benjy and Quentin’s parts seem to only focus on their lives and how their sister Caddy (who got pregnant and left) affected them. I have no judgment of the other’s however I do feel like Caddy should have stayed and helped out with the family.

    I can understand why Dilsey’s part was made in third-person because it would be strange to be reading all these first-person narrators who are siblings and then have someone out of the family be in first-person as well. However, putting Dilsey’s voice in third-person is a great way to see the other character’s through her eyes. Although she doesn’t have a stream of consciousness life the other three characters we do get a sense of how her character is. She is kind, observant and cares about the Compton family.

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    1. Great response, but I do believe that Caddy was banished from the family and not allowed to come back. They took her daughter and wouldn’t let her see her because it wasn’t her husband’s child. Caddy tried to send Quentin money but Jason stole the money, so I think Caddy did try to help out as much as she could.

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    2. I agree with what you say about Dilsey’s part. I think in having that section in third-person allowed the readers to see how the siblings interacted with each other without sacrificing Dilsey’s character. We still get a sense of how she is. The lack of having a stream of consciousness I think shows how observant she is of others as opposed to her thoughts overwhelming the section.

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    3. I thought it was interesting that you noticed Jason’s section didn’t have italics to signify the past, whereas the others did. Either way, we were able to tell that he liked to reflect, much like the rest of the family. Time itself is a major role in this story.

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  11. Jason’s narration in the third section of “The Sound and The Fury”, is notably different from that of his brothers, Benjy and Quentin, which is evident with no sign of italics to provide his dwellings on the past. When Benjy’s or Quentin’s reflection on the past is provided as cherished memories, as for Jason’s it is more angered because they happened that led to the present to be just as terrible. One of the many reasons that triggers these rage filled memories is when he thinks of his sister Caddy just as it states that they “stood there, looking at the grave and then I got to thinking about when we were little and one thing and another I got to feeling funny again kind of mad or something thinking about how now we’d have Uncle Maury around the house all the time running things like the way he left me to come home in the rain by myself” (134). He is always scornful of Caddy, and understandably so, of leaving her daughter and Benjy for him to assumed the guardian role for them.

    Jason’s section of the novel did help an understanding to be made of the Compson family because it doesn’t dwell on the random fun moments that Benjy’s provides, or the affection that Quentin had for Caddy for his own. We learn through this section that because Caddy left was the reason for having an illegitimate child, and because of that Jason is left to be the head of the household, since Quentin who attempted to commit suicide left for Harvard. Throughout this section we get to see how angry Jason came to be and how he had many opportunities to make his own life but couldn’t as stated that “at least I never heard of him offering to sell anything to send me to Harvard” (130), or “deprive me of a job that was promised” (136). But even though he had to assumed the authority role, it also changes how his siblings are seen, for example Benjy is left to be taken care of by Jason since Caddy left and knowing how angry Jason can get it must be terrible for him.

    The fourth section of the novel provides a different approach of narration, which is in third-person omniscient narrator. Through this limited narration it focuses on Dilsey’s perception of the Compson family. It shows how angry and handful the family can be by letting Dilsey focus on the conversations that she has for example with Mrs. Compson when it states that “she gathered up her skirts and mounted the stairs, wholly blotting the gray light” (174). This shows how hard Dilsey has to work to serve the mother and constantly doing so. Also through this narration we are allowed to view the family as Dilsey views because she sort of is the audience character that experiences all the chaos that is the Compson family.

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    1. I like your idea of Dilsey being the “audience character” of the family. She does act like a kind of sponge who just takes in all the drama that goes on in the family.

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  12. Jason’s narration lacks the italics that Benjy’s and Quentin’s did, which made it easier to see when they had minor trains of thought. Jason’s section is more solid and linear in nature. I think this was to enhance the feeling that Jason is a rock; he is firm in his beliefs, bigoted as they may be, and he does not like change. He hates Caddy, and as Benjy’s and Quentin’s memories were often triggered by her, so are his. However, greed specifically appears to trigger his memories. He has essentially been swindling Caddy out of the money she has attempted to send to her daughter, Quentin. At one point, he thinks “…you can’t beat me out of a job and get away with it” (Pg. 135). After years, he still holds resentment for her, and Quentin is the living embodiment of Caddy’s wrong doing to him.
    Jason’s thoughts make me sympathize with Benjy, Quentin, Caddy, and especially Quentin more. He is very hateful, almost to a cartoonist degree. His narration starts with “Once a bitch always a bitch” and it only got worse from there with sexist and racist comments toward Quentin and Dilsey (Pg. 119). At one point, Dilsey even tells Jason that she has a kinder heart than him “even ef hit is black”, which I felt was a powerful retort to his comments (Pg. 137). Although Jason provides for his family, he is blackmailing Caddy out of the money she has attempted to send to her daughter, which leaves me unsympathetic when she runs off.
    I thought the section focusing on Dilsey helped to clear up some of the confusion in the earlier sections. Although we do not get to peer into Dilsey’s thoughts, I think this section benefited by changing the narration. Others have mentioned feeling more connected to Dilsey, and I agree, because it feels less intrusive than in the other sections. Whereas we peered into the Compson brothers’ heads, which was often difficult to follow, the clear narration in DIlsey’s section allowed us to be more focused on her than trying to understand what was happening at the time. It was not necessary of Faulkner to give us a glimpse into DIlsey’s thoughts since her actions and words spoke more about the type of person she is. We see how protective she is of Quentin, too. When Jason sees the broken window, she says, “En I wouldn’t blame her none ef she did”, which is a pretty snippy response to someone that believes they may have been robbed by their sister’s illegitimate daughter (Pg. 181). Dilsey is unwavering in her contempt for Jason, and is not afraid to hide it. She is the only one that stands up for Benjy and Quentin against Jason’s rage. “Ain’t nobody have to wait on her”, Dilsey said when Jason demanded she be down for breakfast is one such instance of her not backing down and cowering to Jason as his mother normally would (Pg. 181).
    Also, as an aside, I am reading the Third Norton Critical Edition of this book that I received from the bookstore and I have noticed page numbers are slightly different than with others so it may not be easy to find these in your own book.

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    1. I’ve been reading the book off of an e-publication so it is quite hard for me to cite page numbers as well…

      Anyway, I didn’t really note the italics so much in my post, so reading this post really makes me understand more why it was easier to read. Jason honestly reminds me of the protagonist of There Will Be Blood, Daniel Plainview. Both of them are driven by desire, and they will pull the necessary strings to achieve their goals, no matter how corrupted the method is. To some extent, I even find Jason’s character much more interesting than the rest of them, considering that their mother supposedly did not love anyone else but Jason, since he was the favorite for her. What makes this fascinating is that despite this, Jason doesn’t return that love at all, nor does he show any amount of love towards his family. They’re like pawns, essentially.

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      1. Having seen this film, I think I agree with you. Although Jason is no where near as intelligent and cunning as Daniel, they share similar traits. The rage, specifically. I think Daniel is much more frightening. When he tells Tilford in the movie, “One night, I’m gonna come to you, inside of your house, wherever you’re sleeping, and I’m gonna cut your throat”, we were given a taste of his sociopathy. Jason does not exude this same level of rage, but the contempt he has for Quentin reminds me of the disregard Daniel had for HW. As in that movie, HW was only a means of an end for Daniel because he was greedy. I think Jason is greedy to a similar degree but lacks the intellect to ensure Quentin did not run off with his money. Villains are always some of the most interesting characters, though.

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  13. Jason seems much angrier with his family that the previous two Compson brothers. Benjy seemed to enjoy his memories but had an overall neutral view of his family, while Quentin longed for the family structure he once had. The first thing Jason says in “once a bitch, always a bitch” (180). So, it is obvious Jason has a very different opinion of his family than we have seen in the previous sections. Jason has no fond memories of his family and only looks back on them to be reminded how they have negatively affected his life. His memories are triggered by the anger he feels towards Caddy, whereas Benjy and Quentin’s memories were triggered by the love they feel for her. I also find it interesting that there are no italics in this section. This could be because Jason believes his past caused his miserable present so there is no dreamlike quality to them. They are facts just like the present; his brothers both seemed to use their memories as fantasy worlds to revisit when the present was not as they wanted. Jason’s section gives me a different perspective of the Compson family. He resents his family for burdening him with the responsibility of caring for everyone. Jason states, “I never had time to. I never had time to go to Harvard or drink myself into the round. I had to work” (181). He believes he never had a change to live his life because his father and Quentin left him in charge of the family.
    Jason’s anger towards Caddy doesn’t fully change my opinion of her; it just gives me a more complete picture of her. This section didn’t change my views of Benjy, Quentin, or Quention Jr. We also get to see more of the Compson parents in this section. We find out that their father was a drunk when their mother says to Dilsey “Why must you encourage him to drink? That’s what’s the matter with him now” (200). Therefore, he had to work so much and never had time for himself. Dilsey’s section of the book is very different from the others because it a third person limited omniscient narrative; this allows us to see how the Compson family is perceived by an outsider. Dilsey seems to be the peacekeeper in the household. When Mrs. Compson scolders her for letting Luster stay out late and threatens to tell Jason on her she says “’Twasn’t none of Jason’s money he went on” (268). This shows she knows how to talk down the family members when they become angry with her, which shows how often that must happen.

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    1. I agree with you, Jason does have resentment towards his family. He had to take on the parent role and become the head of the household. He didn’t get to go to school like his brother Quentin or spend time drinking like his father Mr.Compson because he had to work to support his siblings.

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  14. The section which features Jason Compson differs drastically than the previous narratives. Namely because we don’t see the perplexing transitions between past and present. There is also no italicization and total neglect of grammatical structure here, as opposed to the other sections. There are some minute grammatical errors but this is done in this section to reflect Jason’s lack of education and ignorance. The mostly organized structuring is done purposefully as to illuminate the disposition of Jason as an individual engaged in the present moment – albeit sexually and racially prejudiced. The two other brothers, Benjy and Quentin, are characters trapped within their own mind. Their narratives reflect the deep isolation their characters experience for very different reasons: Benjy is unable to speak and Quentin is tormented by his sister’s past actions. Jason’s recollections are triggered by his want for material wealth and cause him to bring up negative memories in the present moment. “I reckon the reason all the Compson gave out before it got to me like Mother says, is that he drank it up” (Faulkner 197). He is continually speculating on the what-ifs and could-have-beens, in a negative and redundant way.

    Jason is requisite to the novel because he offers a viewpoint considering all the negativity and circumstances that befell the great Compson family. His narration offers a different perspective on characters that had presented themselves in a more subjective and particular way. Jason provides the current squalid state of affairs for the family. His disposition towards women and his family are reflective of the Compson family decline. “I believed folks when they said they’d do things. I’ve learned better since. Besides, like I say I guess I don’t need any man’s help to get along I can stand on my own two feet like I always have” (Faulkner 206). Jason’s jadedness is because his siblings and parents were so preoccupied with themselves or one another that he was overlooked. His resentment towards his family perhaps can speak to the siblings’ ability to be empathetic, resulting in a more rounded characterization of the other Compson family members.

    A first-person narration was not utilized in this section because Dilsey is not a member of the Compson family. Her actions and the description of them are periphery – but affecting – events within the household. Also, an explanation of the involvement and intimacy of her occupation is relevant in shaping a typical turn of the century Southern house. Faulkner utilizes this voyeuristic narrative to give a glimpse into a third-person perspective of the family from within the story itself. “Dilsey tied a cloth about his neck and wiped his mouth with the end of it. ‘And see kin you keep fum messin up his clothes one time,’ she said, handing Luster a spoon” (Faulkner 276). This passage is a testament to the closeness the help shares with the family but also intimates the Dilsey’s inclusion within the family.

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    1. Your point about Benjy and Quentin being trapped in their own minds is interesting. Although I read Jason’s point of view as similarly single-minded, he’s definitely more aware of others and reality than his brothers were (which is unfortunate, considering how malicious he is). I hadn’t considered that Dilsey’s section wasn’t a first-person narrative because she wasn’t actually a member of the Compson family, but that’s a really good point about Faulkner’s use of form to express the conflicting distance and closeness of Dilsey in the Compson’s lives.

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  15. Jason’s narration seems to be filled hatred and anger towards his family. His narration is different from Benjy’s and Quentin’s narration because he doesn’t use italics and he uses first person point of view. Jason seems to dwell on how the things that happened in the past now shape his life in the present. His memories seem to be triggered by things that made him angry. He seems to have a temper because it is repeated often. He gets aggressive when he gets angry, “I dragged her into the diningroom. Her kimono came unfastened…I turned and kicked the door shut in her face” (Faulkner 121).

    Jason’s section of the novel helps the reader understand the other two sections better, including the Compson family history because he shows that every family has problems. It does change my view on the rest of the characters because the other narrators seemed to be more focused on themselves or Caddy. Since Jason took on the parent role and became the head of the household, he had to worry about all of his siblings. This can be seen in the beginning of his narration where he is arguing with his mother because she has no authority towards her children. An example would be when his mother and Jason are talking about school and Jason responds to her by saying “You never have tried to do anything with her,” “How do you expect to begin this late, when she’s seventeen years old?” (Faulkner 119). This seems to frustrate him because his mother has been a passive and absent parent and he has to take on that role.

    Dilsey’s third-person limited narration is different from the other first-person narratives because the reader doesn’t really know what the characters are thinking. There is some degree of intimacy in Dilsey’s perspective because the reader gets to see the other characters through her point of view. It is also intimate because the reader is able to see how the characters live their lives and the problems they face at home. The reader is able to put his or herself in her shoes. An example of this would be when Mrs. Compson tells her “Hush, Dilsey,” “It’s neither your place nor mine to tell Jason what to do” (Faulkner 181).

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    1. I agree with your point about Dilsey; despite the fact that she is dismissed in all sections of the book, I think that the last part of the novel really emphasized the point of how undervalued and abused she is, especially by Jason and his enabling mother.

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  16. Jason is a much less likable character than Benjy or Quentin, and his self-superior and cold narration makes the reader very aware of this. In contrast to the often abstract digressions or triggered memories of Benjy and Quentin, Jason seems to go on inward rants when he thinks of the past, particularly in relation to Quentin Sr. and Caddy. When Earl tells one of the customers at his shop that Jason will wait on them, he has a stream of thought that begins with him referring to himself in the third person: “Well Jason likes work. I says no I never had university advantages […] Then when she sent Quentin home for me to feed too I says I guess that’s right too, instead of me having to go way up north for a job they sent the job down here to me[…]” (123). Clearly he’s bitter when he’s reminded of the differences in his and Quentin’s upbringing–that Quentin was able to attend university when the family sold some land, no less–and he similarly resents Caddy for causing him to lose a job opportunity (by ending her relationship with Herbert) and burdening him with her daughter. After cheating her out of seeing Quentin, he’s angered that she would call him a liar: “You already cost me one job; do you want me to lose this one too?) (129). Thus, rather than the fondness and tender sadness of Quentin and Benjy’s remembrances, Jason is filled with vindictive anger toward his family that is masked as a desire to keep them together.

    Jason’s section illuminates a lot of the family dynamics of the Compsons, including the aforementioned tension between siblings as a result of Jason’s perceived lost advantages. Jason also shares a closeness with his mother that the other siblings lack, as described by Mrs. Compson in contrast to their relationships with Caddy, Quentin Sr., and Jason Sr.: “‘They [Quentin and Caddy] were both that way’ […] ‘They would make interest with your father against me when I tried to correct them. He was always saying they didn’t need controlling […]” (163). Mrs. Compson, who is so ashamed of Caddy that she refuses to say her name, feels burdened by Quentin and Caddy even in their absence. She laments the death of her husband and the state of her family, but recognizes Jason as the head of the house, despite her disapproval of his treatment of Caddy, as expressed in one of her many pleas to him: “You are the only one of them that isn’t a reproach to me” (114). This is both pitiful and frustrating; Jason is clearly an antagonist and Mrs. Compson is his only sympathizer. Her failure to protect Caddy is one glaring example, as she tells her at the dinner table, “He [Jason] is the nearest thing to a father you’ve ever had. […] It’s his bread you and I eat. It’s only right that he should expect obedience from you” (162). Mrs. Compson’s deliberate blindness and acceptance of Jason’s abuse toward Quentin also illuminates some of the emotional issues of Caddy and Quentin Sr., who were also likely misguided in their relationships.

    The narration in the fourth section doesn’t follow Dilsey completely; there are sections in which it switches to Jason’s life, including his visit to the sheriff in an attempt to incriminate Quentin. While Dilsey is followed for the majority of the section, the narration lacks deep insight into her thoughts, instead focusing on her from the perspective of an attentive outsider, as when she is called upon to awaken Benjy by Mrs. Compson: “[…] Mrs. Compson knew that she had lowered her face a little and that she stood now like cows do in the rain, holding the empty water bottle by its neck” (169). Mrs. Compson responds to her body language by shifting the blame and guilt back on Dilsey, who “[doesn’t] have to bear the brunt of [Benjy’s disability] day in and day out,” despite her constant catering to the entire family’s needs (169). Dilsey is reduced to silence and has no further described contemplation, although the slowness of her movement suggests the deep lack of appreciation for her role in the house. Despite this, Dilsey’s frequent efforts to protect and serve the family add tenderness to each of the characters, especially Mrs. Compson, who, despite her refusal to actually stop Jason’s behavior, needs comfort. “Hush,” Dilsey tells her, when she worries that Jason will beat Quentin, “He aint gwine do nothin to her. I aint gwine let him” (175). This would suggest that Dilsey is the only character left at the novel’s end who can protect the members of the house.

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  17. 1.It is very clear from the beginning of this section that Jason’s thoughts and actions are driven by his anger and resentment that he feels towards his family. When he loses the opportunity for the job he says “I says I reckon you’ll think twice before you deprive me of a job that was promised me. I was a kid then. I believed folks when they said they’d do things. I’ve learned since then” (129). He clearly holds grudges towards most of the people, if not all, in his life. There is a lack of italics when his memories are presented, unlike that of his brothers. The lack of italics creates a more harsh tone in the writing and is very intentional, as opposed to his brothers. Benji could not help his mental state and Quentin is filled with regret for the conflict he has created. Jason, on the other hand, has an anger that he will not release.
    2.Jason’s section of the novel certainly helped clarify the two sections more. At first I did not really feel sorry for the characters and thought that most of their decisions were just poor decisions or poor cards that were dealt to them. However, after Jason’s section, we understand that he was put at the head of the household and holds so much resentment towards his family. He treats them so poorly and shows no remorse towards them for doing so. It seems that he feels that since he was done wrong everything he does as a result of that is right. It made me feel sorry for how poorly his family was treated and sorry for him. Jason says, “I’m glad I haven’t got the sort of conscience I’ve got to nurse like a sick puppy all the time” (143). Jason clearly has no remorse for how he treats his family and feels that he is not obligated to think other wise.
    3.Dilsey’s section is completely different from that of the three brothers. In his section, it is in a third-person limited omniscient narrator-making it a closer reading of the character. This section seems to give a panoramic view of the entire family and how they interact with each other. This section allowed us to understand the family dynamic a bit better having read individualized sections; this allowed us to see the entire family at play.

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    1. That’s an interesting comment on the last bit. We don’t exactly see his anger released until he strikes Benjy, commanding him to shut up. This is, of course, when the narrative changes. Grudges are definitely something that is a key asset of his character when it comes to. It’s definitely how he brings up the past, even though he wishes to live mostly in the present. While these grudges do hold on to him, it definitely reflects how he treats other people around him. It’s not really a wonder why he wasn’t talked to often amongst the other siblings.

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  18. 1. Jason’s narrative is very different than Quentin’s. His narrative moves very fast and he doesn’t dwell on the past very much. He does think of this father and how Caddy was banished from the family, “Hush,” Father says. “You’re just upset. Fix it in here, Dilsey” (Page 199). Jason seems to only bring up the past because of a grudge or resentment. He is very single minded compared to his other brother’s. He is more like Benjy in that he doesn’t really consider other people’s feelings. Benjy doesn’t do this with ill intent though. He enjoys tormenting people and is single-mindedly concerned with money.
    2. Jason is very straight forward and doesn’t jump around too much with his thoughts and memories which makes it easier to follow a storyline. Jason is manipulative. He doesn’t care about Benjy at all and steals the money that Caddy sends for her daughter, Ms. Quentin, “Ten dollars?” She says, staring at me. “And you ought to be dam glad to get that,” I says (page 213) . It becomes known that Jason had to work to support his family and that is part of the reason why he is so cold. My judgement of Benjy doesn’t change. I feel more sympathy for him actually. My sympathy for Caddy increases as I understand the details of her banishment better. I also sympathize with Ms. Quentin more because Jason is simply using her for her mother’s money.
    3. We do not get the innermost thoughts and feelings that the other stories had but we do get a level of intimacy still. We see that Dilsey is abused and not appreciated by the Compson family but she still remains faithful to them. She is very overprotective of Mr. Quentin most likely because she knows everything that has happened with her and her mother. “Soon es Quentin need any of yo egvice, I’ll let you know” (page 298).

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    1. I agree that Jason’s section is very simple to read compared to the others because he doesn’t jump around like the other characters. I also believe that Jason is cold to his family because he is the only one supporting them through his job. I think deep down though he does care about his family or else he would leave and get his own place and stop giving them money but instead he stays.

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      1. Jason’s section doesn’t jump around in contrast to Quentin’s and Benjy’s. I think this is reflected in the story; the author could be trying to imitate Jason’s mindstate. He is sane compared to Quentin and Benjy, whereas they are mentally unstable. Their thought patterns are scattered, and perhaps the odd pace in the syntax is trying to reflect that.

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    2. I also gained more sympathy for Caddy after reading Jason’s section. I realized the significant role she plays in the family and her mistreatment and banishment from the family really caused a downward spiral that I think would be difficult for any family to work through.

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    3. Jason’s section really is different from the others. I think you’re right in that we can see that he is very single minded as his section moves quickly. He is very self absorbed and holds so much resentment towards his family for having to take on so much responsibility.

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  19. 1. Jason lives in the present and for the future; the past means nothing to him. Jason sees time as money and financial matters are what trigger memories into the past. For example, the memory of Caddy being abandoned by her husband and baby-girl-Quentin being left in their care is triggered when Jason sees his Uncle Maury wearing black gloves “that [they] got the bill for four days later” and his father refused for Caddy to accept any money from her former husband and to see the baby (124). Or when he is burning the letter from his mistress, Lorraine, and remembers the day he gave her $40 and the maid $5, and goes on to justify why he spends his money the way he does (122). The event or the people that he remembers isn’t much of an importance to Jason. He is only preoccupied with thoughts of money and the honor of his family—by agreeing to help Quentin Jr. grow up with no contact from her mother (123).
    2. Caddy hold a much more important role in the family than I previously realized. She is Benjy’s beloved sister, Quentin’s fallen sister, and Jason’s bitch sister. For all of them, Caddy is the light of the family and Jason resents her for it. He shows this resentment during his father’s funeral and Caddy paid Jason to see her daughter (129). When he leaves, he says, “I reckon that’ll show you,” as they move further away from Caddy and she runs towards them (129). He knows he’s causing her pain and he doesn’t care. On the contrary, he feels justified in treating her in the way that he does because of his feelings of being the only sane Compson who invests—and loses—his money.
    3. Dilsey exists for the family. The limited perspective emphasizes her loyalty to the Compson family because it is centered on the actions and dialogue of the family rather than the intimate thoughts or emotions readers get from first person stream of consciousness. She works for the comfort of the family, rather than taking care of her pains, and does her chores without complaint. After she orders Luster to get Benjy dressed, she begins to “sifter steadily above the bread board, [and] she sang, to herself at first” and her song becomes something like a prayer: “repetitive, mournful, and plaintive”—a prayer that brings comfort because of its familiarity as she prepares the dough for her biscuits for the family (168).

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