I spent this past weekend reading furiously (no pun intended)- trying to finish up Quentin's section of The Sound and the Fury so I could read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince without feeling guilty. I finished HBP on Sunday afternoon, so I have no excuses not to start the next section of TS&TF- I feel like I'm dragging my heels though...
Last night the third lecture for The Sound and the Fury went up on Oprah.com. While I didn't find this one quite as informative as the last one, it was interesting still. I especially liked the last two sections- they gave me not only a lot more insight on the Quentin character, but on all of these Compson males- struggling to fit into this mold of "Southern Gentleman". It just goes to show that these ideas don't ever really die, just change shape. It made me think about modern day "rednecks" men who would rather seem ignorant than sensitive...
These are taken directly from the lecture notes
- While Benjy's section—April Seventh, 1928—contains descriptions of all the major events from the past that are central to the novel, Quentin's section provides access for interpreting those details and those described events.
- Quentin allows for meanings to emerge and consequences to take shape, and for the kind of cause and effect that Benjy's sensory observations could not convey.
- Modernist, imagery laden, fractured telling, with an abundance of different kinds of images is the only way we can describe Quentin's narrative.
- Memory is Quentin's burden, just as much as it was Benjy's. However, the difference in the telling is that Faulkner represents Quentin's consciousness with Quentin's own voice, with his particular attention to the collision of events in his mind's eye, and the meanings from his perspective.
- Unlike his brother, Quentin feels more than loss. He feels guilt, he feels regret, he feels desire, resentment, anger, frustration and fear. Also, impotency and emotions he cannot name, and with urges that he cannot control—particularly urges that are related to sexuality.
- Caddy is at the center of Quentin's consciousness. Quentin obsesses over Caddy's sexuality and his own lack of virility, in particular his inability to challenge successfully Caddy's lover to a fistfight.
- He calls out Herbert Head, who is to marry Caddy, in a proper duel-like fashion. But that only leads to his receiving an offer of help to get a job and friendship (pp. 107–110). This was not at all what Quentin was expecting. He gets a humiliating dismissal from Herbert Head. He's powerless to use his facility with words and his ideas to effect change within the family, and, as the eldest male child, he feels an enormous sense of failure.
- In this section then—in Cambridge, Massachusetts—Quentin is filled with desire to be what he is not and with the knowledge that he will end his life shortly.
- If Benjy's section is filled with references to "Caddy said…Caddy said…" then Quentin's is filled with references to "Father said…." Jason Compson, the patriarch of the family, is a philosopher of sorts, but he's also a nihilist.
- Quentin is under the impression that he must protect his sister's virginity as one way of ensuring the values and the beliefs of the Old South.
- His efforts to save Caddy from disgrace are also efforts much like Benjy's to prevent Caddy from maturing.
- In this section, "father says…," "Quentin says…" and then "Shreve says…." Shreve is Quentin's roommate in Cambridge. There's a way in which Faulkner signals the very present moment with the presence of Shreve's voice. Father's voice is in the past in a memory; Quentin's is both in the past and the present; but Shreve's is always in the present moment.
- Quentin sees himself as a Southern gentleman is apparent in a variety of ways throughout the text, but in particular with his dealing with black people.
- Quentin needs Deacon—and blacks in general—to make himself visible and to give shape to his identity. It positions him in a particular way within a particular society and gives him a sense of his place, of his location, of his situation as one of the white folks who in fact have a higher hierarchical position over the black folks
- Were Quentin allowed to express himself differently and with a different hierarchy of values and social meaning, then perhaps he might have been able to adjust to life in Cambridge and to being at Harvard. Instead, Quentin has to place himself within the context of the Old South: its values, its belief and its ideology.
- Quentin's obsessive interest in Caddy's sexuality, in virginity, translates into his fears, his concerns over his own sexual identity, his own sexuality, his own virility.
- On June 2, 1910, he is so tormented by his perceived failures, by Caddy's fall, by his father's beliefs, that he spends a day preparing to die. Quentin cannot find a way to relate to his family and their expectations or to his own body and his own desires.
- What Julio manages to do is what Quentin could never do: protect his sister and, in a public arena, be acknowledged as the protector of the girl and also of the family honor (pp. 139–144).
- Caroline Compson renounces Caddy, Quentin and Benjy as not her flesh and blood, but as a curse upon her family. In overhearing his mother's remarks to his father, Quentin faces an unwanted reality: His mother has dismissed him from her life.
- Because he's trapped in an almost adolescent state of despair, he cannot see himself growing into maturity and into meaningful adulthood.
I feel like this outline isn't as well organized as the last one- but if you want to follow up on it, definitely check out the lecture notes. A few things are clearer to me now (especially the story about the little lost girl and it's relationship to Caddy).
I'll be posting some discussion questions soon- hopefully we can get some good conversations going...