Andrea (first_lobster) wrote in oprah_book_club,

The Sound and the Fury -- Lecture 2 Notes

Hey guys, thanks for responding to the poll yesterday (here's a link in case you missed it...)

I just got done watching the second lecture from and

These are taken directly from the lecture notes

  • The title comes from Macbeth- "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

  • Benjy's mind provides little tiny snapshots, small pictures of actions and events, and little snippets of dialogue or extended conversations.
    All of the speakers are conveniently identified by name.

  • He associates sounds and names and words in the present with those from the past. But moreover, because Caddy as a little girl has made a great effort to teach Benjy by repeating words and their meanings and by giving actions emphasis through repetition, Benjy has a specific cache of words and objects that are meaningful to him.

  • Benjy's memories mainly center on Caddy and they contain the central scenes recurring throughout the novel.
    • 1898, when Benjy is only 3 years old, and the children play in the branch where Caddy wets her dress and muddies her underpants after fighting with Quentin, and later climbs the tree to see into the parlor and discover Damuddy dead.

    • 1900, when Benjy's name changes from Maury, and when he watches fire in the library with Caddy, who is 9 then. In that [latter] moment, Caddy begins to use fire as a way of comforting Benjy and as a way of making him understand the difference between being noisy and being quiet. She also uses in that moment a cushion to calm him. So in 1900, when his name is changed from Maury to Benjamin, what happens basically is that Benjy is very upset and Caddy discovers ways of calming him and having him understand what is going on in his world.

    • 1906, when Caddy uses perfume at 14. That moment is a moment when Benjy understands that Caddy is changing. And he's upset and he cries—his world is changing with her. But Caddy is willing to forgo growing up in order to satisfy the needs and the demands of her brother—and so she washes the perfume off and gives it away.

    • Also important are the loss of Caddy's virginity and her wedding.

    • Faulkner included absolutely all of the elements of the story in Benjy's section. So if we worked our way through an extended list of all of the incidents dating them as best as we could—by the ages of the children, by signals within the time frame—what we would see is that there is a complete story within Benjy's section; all of the pieces are there.

  • The mirror in the library provides a frame of reference very often for Benjy, in which he sees the reflection of what's going on in the room around him—but only is it possible for him to see what is visible within the mirror itself. And so Faulkner plays kind of a word game with what is in the mirror and what disappears from the mirror as a way of indicating Benjy's limited frame of reference and his limited focus.

  • For Benjy, Caddy must remain childlike. She must remain smelling like trees, or else his world will be set at a different angle. See, for example, in the novel, a number of instances when Benjy begins to cry because Caddy is wearing perfume repeated over and over again, or when Caddy makes out with the boy Charlie on the swing.

  • The motif of loss comes into play immediately with the open segment—Luster's searching in the grass along the fence for a lost quarter so that he can attend a traveling show. The lost quarter gives way to the lost sister Caddy, and the hunt becomes a search for Caddy through the various recesses of Benjy's memory.

  • Benjy's losses:

    • He's lost his first name, Maury, and had it replaced with Benjy because of his mother's desire to distance him and his disability from her family, the Bascombs, and her brother Maury, for whom Benjy had initially been named.

    • Benjy has also lost a significant group of people: his father Jason Compson, Roskus Gibson, (Dilsey's husband and the general caretaker of the Compson place), Quentin (his older brother, the suicide), and Dammudy (his grandmother), when he was three. All of these individuals are lost to him by death.

    • Caddy, who does not die, but who rather has been banished from the family. Of all of the individuals in his life, Caddy is the one person who took the time to enrich Benjy's life, enrich his existence and fill it in very meaningful ways—with warmth, with love, with affection, as well as with material experiences and also with physical activities—they do things together. She alone did not expect him to keep quiet and to remain invisible. In the present, for instance, his youthful caretaker Luster constantly warns Benjy to "stop [his] bellering" and to "hush."

  • Dilsey has no qualms about taking Benjy to the service and having him visible there as they move through the town. In this simple act then, Dilsey is linked to Caddy in her attitude toward Benjy.

  • The womb-like comfort zone of sleep is associated with the reassuring presence of Caddy who had not merely looked after Benjy, but had also explained events and things to him in a logic that he could actually comprehend.

After watching that, I think I kind of want to go back and re-read a little before I go on to the next section. Hmmm.
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