Saturday, 16 November 2013

"The sound and the fury"- section 3

1/ Jason is a douchebag. Period. 
I am aware: 
a) Jason isn't close to any of his siblings. He doesn't really have anybody. 
b) Being a favourite of his mother doesn't make it better for him. Caroline Compson prefers him because to her he's a true Bascomb (she was a Bascomb before getting married and changing her name) while all the others are Compsons, but she, selfish and hypochondriac and neglectful, doesn't give him more love than she does other children though she repeatedly says so. 
c) Their father sells Benjy's pasture to get money for Quentin to go to Harvard and for Caddy to get married to Herbert but Jason gets nothing. 
d) Both Quentin and Caddy waste their opportunities, which Jason never has in the 1st place. 
e) Herbert promises Jason a job in the bank and this chance is ruined when Caddy's cast off by her husband and it's her fault, at least according to Jason. 
f) Many years later when Quentin has committed suicide and Caddy's become an outsider, Jason becomes the head of the family and has to work and earn money for his sick mother, his mentally challenged brother Benjy and his niece Quentin (and the servants).
So yes, I understand that life's hard for him and, in some sense, unfair. 
a) Can anybody like Jason? As a kid he's a tattletale and doesn't form a bond with his siblings. Older, he's bitter, spiteful, cynical, mean, materialistic, incapable of loving anybody or anything except money.
b) He always puts the blame on other people, especially Caddy, holds a grudge for years and can never forgive anybody nor be thankful to anybody. For example he doesn't consider that he wouldn't have the chance of a job at a bank if not for Caddy. 
c) He lies, steals the money Caddy sends for her daughter Quentin and cheats his mother. 
d) He robs Quentin Jr of her mother, of family, and of a love or at least some kindness she deserves. 
e) He's a racist.
f) He's a misogynist. His thoughts show that he doesn't hate only Caddy and Quentin but women in general. Or maybe he's just sexist. 
g) As a kid he cuts up Benjy's dolls. As an adult he burns free passes for nothing but meanness only because he enjoys tormenting Luster. 
h) He's cruel and yet he always victimises himself, believing other people are being cruel and unfair to him. 
So no, don't tell me he's mean and selfish for a reason. That's no excuse. 

2/ It's not difficult to see William Faulker's influence on Toni Morrison. At least they've got a few things in common: regional literature, rich language, cadence, rhythm, multiple narrative voices... 
That is not to say Toni Morrison doesn't have qualities and special things of her own. But that is to be saved for another post. 

3/ "The sound and the fury" gets easier and easier. 
The 1st part, as I've written, is a mess, where things are told in non-chronological order by a mentally deficient guy who hardly knows what's what, what's going on and why things happen. The whole time the reader has to try to figure out which period it is and what Benjy's talking about. His section is of memories, scenes and fragments, the reader has to put all the pieces together. 
The 2nd part is easier. Events of the present are told chronologically, but they're mixed with Quentin's stream of consciousness, his memories and conflicting thoughts and emotions while he's in a deteriorating state of mind. The stream of consciousness passages are difficult to digest because Faulkner disregards punctuation, grammar and capitalisation, creating a rambling series of words and phrases that sometimes hardly make sense. 
Then the 3rd part's even easier. Jason's a straightforward, unsentimental or even heartless person, so he narrates chronologically what's going on, with his comments and thoughts. Once in a while he talks about some specific things in the past out of bitterness, rage and hatred, but they don't occupy much of the narrative. The difficulties one has to deal with are only the dialect he uses and the annoyance at a douchebag's rant. 
Following that, the 4th part's likely to be most readable and accessible, considering that it's told by an omniscient narrator.

4/ Having finished reading the 3rd section, I've come to the conclusion that "The sound and the fury" revolves around Caddy. Though she isn't a narrator and we don't know what goes on in her head, Caddy's the central character, who has had more influence on and evoked stronger feelings from each of her brothers than anybody has done. Thus each of the 1st 3 sections is a response to her and what she has done and how she has affected them. 
More will be written about Caddy.  

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