Literature

Assignment on 'How Do You as a Person View the Novel 'Sound & the Fury'

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A PERSONAL INTERPRETATION OF WILLIAM FAULKNER'S NOVEL 'THE SOUND AND THE FURY'
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    Assignment on; How do you, as a person, viewthe novel The Sound and TheFury ? Submitted to:  Dr. Rafique Memon Submitted by: Altaf Ahmed Sheikh M.A (Hons.) English LiteratureRoll No. ENG/2K6/10Institute of English Language & Literature,University of Sindh, Jamshoro. Dated; November 2 nd ; 2009    My perception of this novel is quite realistic. It can be called less of personal perception,rather more of objective or impersonal perception because it is next to impossible to fix ayardstick for measuring the quality & standard of any piece of literature. In literature, andin art too, everything piece carries its own significance which is unique. Let me begin byanalyzing this novel with its very title. The title of the novel is taken from Macbeth'ssoliloquy in act 5, scene 5 of William Shakespeare's Macbeth: Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,Creeps in this petty pace from day to dayTo the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted foolsThe 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 taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing.   Immediately obvious is the notion of a tale told by an idiot , in this case Benjy, whoseview of the Compsons' story opens the novel. The idea can be extended also to Quentin andJason, whose narratives display their own varieties of idiocy. More to the point, the novelrecounts the decline and death of a traditional upper-class Southern family, the way todusty death . The last line is, perhaps, the most meaningful; Faulkner said in his speechupon being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature that people must write about things thatcome from the heart, universal truths . Otherwise they signify nothing.The novel centers on the Compson family, former Southern aristocrats who are strugglingto deal with the dissolution of their family and its reputation. The novel is separated intofour distinct sections. The first, April 7, 1928, is written from the perspective of Benjamin Benjy Compson, a 33-year-old man with severe mental handicaps. Benjy's section ischaracterized by a highly disjointed narrative style with frequent chronological leaps. Thesecond section, June 2, 1910, focuses on Quentin Compson, Benjy's younger brother, andthe events leading up to his suicide. In the third section, April 6, 1928, Faulkner writesfrom the point of view of Jason, Quentin and Benjy's cynical younger brother. In the fourthand final section, set a day after the third, on April 8, 1928, Faulkner introduces a third person limited omniscient point of view. The last section primarily focuses on Dilsey, oneof the Compson's black servants. Jason is also a focus in the section, but Faulkner presentsglimpses of the thoughts and deeds of everyone in the family. A simple plot summarycannot adequately describe this novel, as much of the novel's strength lies in its technicalachievements and lyrical prose.The Sound and the Fury has been read as typifying the South as a whole. Faulkner wasvery much preoccupied with the question of how the ideals of the old South could bemaintained or preserved in the post-Civil War era. Seen in this light, the decline of theCompson family might be interpreted as an examination of the corrosion of traditional  morality, only to be replaced by a modern helplessness. The most compelling charactersare also the most tragic, as Caddy and Quentin cannot survive within the context of thesociety whose values they reject as best they can, and it is left to Jason, unappealing butcompetently pragmatic, to maintain the status quo, as illustrated by the novel's ending.The novel's appreciation has in large part been due to the technique of its construction,Faulkner's ability to recreate the thought patterns of the human mind. It was an essentialdevelopment in the stream-of-consciousness narrative technique. This novel was Faulkner's personal favorite. It is often regarded as the best in Faulkner's works. Not surprisingly, thenovel has received an extraordinary amount of critical analysis, much of which has beendevoted to explaining Faulkner's technical experimentations. Critics have also widelydiscussed Faulkner's treatment of issues such as race, suicide, incest, time, history, andreligion. Central to any reading of the novel, however, is the character that Faulkner claimed was his source for the novel — Caddy. One critic has claimed that the tragedy of the Compsons is that they are slaves to themselves and to the past. This argument is particularly relevant to the novel's first two sections. Benjy's monologue, for example, isuttered in the present, but is mainly comprised of memories from his childhood and youth.Most of these memories are connected to his sister whose departure following her marriageto Herbert Head leaves a void in Benjy's life. Because Caddy was the one family member to provide Benjy with the nurturing love that he needed, and because Mrs. Compson doeslittle else but whine about being punished by God for her family's transgressions, Caddywas more of a mother figure to Benjy than Mrs. Compson was. Through his monologue,which often obscures the boundaries between present and past, Benjy reveals both a deep-seated attachment to a past inhabited by Caddy and a desperate desire for her return. Likehis companion, Luster, who is busy searching for a lost quarter, Benjy, too, hopes to findthat which he has lost. There are also echoes of existential themes in the novel, as Sartreargued in his famous essay on Faulkner. Many of the characters also draw upon classical,Biblical and literary sources: Some believe Quentin to have been inspired by Hamlet andCaddy by Ophelia.The novel achieved great critical success and a prominent place among the greatest of American novels, and is counted in one of the hundred greatest books. Recently, it wasselected by the Modern Library as the sixth greatest English-language novel of thetwentieth century. Not to forget it earned William Faulkner Nobel Prize in Literature in1949 which is perhaps the highest worldly justification to declare this novel as one of themasterpiece of all time.

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