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Past Group Reads > The Sound and the Fury

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message 1: by Jenn, moderator (new)

Jenn | 303 comments Mod
Please discuss The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner.

message 2: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (brandiec) I'm about halfway through the section written from Quentin's perspective. I'm having a really hard time with the stream of consciousness approach, especially in Benjy's section.

message 3: by Janet (new)

Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 77 comments Deborah - I just finished the book. I had to read Benjy's section three times. First I read it through, then I read it through using Sparknotes, and then I read it through again to get the flow of the writing. It became much clearer that way. Quentin's section is also difficult, particularly because of the run on sentences. However, when you get to the section narrated by Jason, which is jam packed with information, everything becomes quite clear.

message 4: by Baz (new)

Baz (bazfiction) I love Faulkner. This novel was breathtakingly beautiful and moving. It definitely wasn't an easy read, and I didn't always know right away who's head I was in, but I just went with it and it was magic. The last sections do make things clearer. It's one of the best novels I've ever read. I love his characters.

message 5: by Janet (new)

Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 77 comments Joy wrote: "I am definitely going to have to get a study guide or something. This is just crazy. They did finally say Benjy's name."

Joy - Google The Sound and the Fury, sparknotes. They helped me a lot. However, I never did figure out what "blue gum" meant.

message 6: by Phil (new)

Phil (lanark) I've only ever read one Faulkner - "As I Lay Dying". I tend not to buy new books these days and as this isn't out of copyright and I don't have it already, I'll not be participating. But I'm very interested in seeing the discussion as I swim through the (interesting and beautifully written) treacle of Little Dorritt ;)

message 7: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (brandiec) Joy, I'm reading a hard copy and so cannot easily search for "blue gum." I don't remember being confused by that phrase, so if you can give me the entire sentence in context, I may be able to answer your question.

message 8: by tysephine (new)

tysephine Anybody else lamenting the lack of questions marks? Everything I read is flat in my head and then I have to go back and add in emphasis or flow to the sentences. This is going to take me forever to read.

message 9: by tysephine (new)

tysephine According to Urban Dictionary, a blue gum is a term for an African-American who refuses to work. Confusingly, it is also a type of tree. I doubt they're referring to the tree.

message 10: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (brandiec) Joy, as Janet said, Jason's section is much easier to understand than either Benjy's or Quentin's. My copy of the book, published by Modern Library, also contains Faulkner's "Appendix," which he stated was the "key" to the entire book. Apparently, the Appendix was originally published before the text of the book itself; if that had been in the case in my copy, I would have stopped reading after the Appendix because it essentially states the entire story in easy-to-comprehend prose.

I do still have one question for those who have finished the book. (view spoiler)

message 11: by Janet (new)

Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 77 comments Deborah wrote: "Joy, as Janet said, Jason's section is much easier to understand than either Benjy's or Quentin's. My copy of the book, published by Modern Library, also contains Faulkner's "Appendix," which he s..."

(view spoiler)

message 12: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (brandiec) Joy, I am a lawyer, and I can tell you that, when dealing with small town judges, you often end up paying something as "consideration" for the judge's decision to dismiss the case. Think of it as a settlement, whether neither side admits wrongdoing but the payment serves to make the case go away.

message 13: by Beth (new)

Beth (k9odyssey) There is a very good document at that prepared me for S and the F. Without this I would have been lost. It was the difference between frustration / failure a sense of accomolishment on getting through a challenging novel. I heard so many people say it was incomprehensible. With the help of schmoops, I think I "get" it.

message 14: by Beth (new)

Beth (k9odyssey) sorry it is

message 15: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 219 comments Well, I'm mostly with Joy. I found the first section very, very difficult to read. And the problem is, I don't see the point of its being so difficult. If there were a reason why is should be, maybe I would be more committed to the book, but if Faulkner is being obtuse for the sake of being obtuse, that doesn't interest me much.

What does interest me is the nature of the societal disintegration of the pre-war Southern lifestyle. Yes, it was an unjust lifestyle built on slave labor, but until the Industrial Revolution, when machines began to replace humans as the primary source of power, almost all great societies were built on slave labor or an equivalent.

Anyhow, I see the Southern lifestyle disintegration as paralleling to a significant degree the post-WWI disintegration of the upper class Victorian and Edwardian era lifestyles (a disintegration which we're now seeing in Downton Abbey), where those great houses were built not on slave labor but on a servant class that was treated not a whole lot better than slaves.

Major wars like WWI and the Civil War do tend to have a very strong impact in changing societies.

message 16: by Beth (new)

Beth (k9odyssey) The comparison to Downton Abbey is interesting. I hadn't thought of it but would rather be a Grantham servant than a Compton servant. They are some creepy folks !

message 17: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (brandiec) Beth, thanks for the link to I had checked out some critical analyses of The Sound and the Fury from the library, which helped me understand it a little better, but it looks like may be a great resource for many "difficult" classics.

message 18: by Beth (new)

Beth (k9odyssey) I like it because they are geared towards students and try to make the analysis of a,book fun. I used it when I read MacBeth and now Sound and the Fury. Really good website.

message 19: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 627 comments When I read this one in college (I think? or was it high school?) my prof literally went through Benjy's section with us line by line and told us which lines and sections were from which time period, because they all jump around so much. I went through with a highlighter later and did a different color for each time period. Then I went through the chapter again myself to see if I could put together a timeline of what was really happening. She kept saying that Benjy is the one who has the whole picture, everything is in Benjy's section, you just have to dig to find it. Because his mind doesn't operate in a linear way, it's incredibly difficult to follow.

I STILL don't have the desire to pick this (or any other Faulkner) back up ever again. Kudos to you all who are attempting/completing it!

message 20: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (brandiec) Alana, the summary really excelled in breaking down the timeline of Benjy's section. I wish I had read it immediately after reading that section of the book.

message 21: by David (last edited Feb 18, 2014 04:20PM) (new)

David | 8 comments I read this some time ago, but I have been watching this thread with interest, because this book left a lasting impression on me, and I wanted to see what others thought. Here is my review (sorry, it's sort of un-PC):

Reading the first part of this book made me feel retarded. Then I figured out that it was from the point of view of a retard, and I felt even more retarded. I guess that may have been the point. This book is broken down into four parts, four days, three of which are written in first person from three different people. See how this can get confusing?
The first part is written in the first person perspective of Maury, also known as Ben(jy). There is something seriously wrong with Ben. He mostly cries, slobbers and moans, which is kind of what the first part of this book leaves the reader doing. You are thrown headfirst into the middle of the life and times of Ben and his family. Things jump back and forth and keep repeating themselves and switching to italics and it is generally maddening, especially since all of the characters are introduced (and I use that term loosely) through the eyes of Ben the retard.
The second part of the book jumps back in time 18 years and is told through the eyes of Quentin. There is also something wrong with Quentin. Come to think of it, there is something wrong with just about everyone in this story, except possibly Dilsey and Luster, two of the servants, and that’s probably because we just don’t know them well enough yet. Anyway, from what I gather, Quentin has an incestuous relationship with his sister Candice, and you later find out that, again from what I can gather, they beget a girl also named Quentin, with whom Candice’s and Quentin’s brother Jason has a real problem with. See how easy all this is to follow? And I’m kinda simplifying. By the way, this particular part of the book would probably make James Joyce proud.
Anyhow, return to the future (1928) one day earlier than the day told from the perspective of Ben the retard. The events of this day are seen through the eyes of the aforementioned Jason. There is something wrong with Jason. First and foremost, he is quite possibly the world’s biggest asshole. Throw bigot, thief, and mean-spiritedness into the mix, and that pretty much describes Jason. This part of the book is actually where the reader begins to figure out the goings on in this book. It helps that it is written relatively linearly. The reader follows Jason as he shirks his job, steals money from his family, chases his niece Quentin all over everywhere and generally treats everyone he interacts with like shit. So far in reading literature, there has never been a character that I have more despised. At least he doesn’t rape twelve-year-old girls, though.
Through all of this, the family’s history is unfolded and the reader is thrown into the weird little world of the Compton’s and their servants.
The Last part of the book is written in third person and takes place two days after the third part, or one day after the part narrated by Ben the retard.
It has Quentin, daughter of incestuous Quentin and Candice, breaking into Jason’s Room and stealing the money that he himself stole from her mother Candice. Some of this money was supposed to be Quentin’s anyway. This part of the story revolves mostly around Dilsey and Luster.
As confusing and hard to read as this book was in the beginning, it turned out to be rather good and I would recommend it to any serious reader. It elicited strong emotions and I have contemplated it all day (I finished it last night). That to me is a sign of a pretty good read.

message 22: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (brandiec) Actually, Quentin (male) is not the father of Quentin (female), although he tried to convince his father that he had committed incest with Candace. Quentin's father was probably Dalton Ames, although we never find out for sure.

message 23: by Beth (new)

Beth (k9odyssey) Finished and I confess to liking it even though I was prepared NOT to liking it from all I had heard. I didn't find Benji hard to follow (with some help from and I really was fascinated with Jason. The fourth chapter was relaxing after the first three and such a contrast in style. I had the hardest time with Quentin's account. In the end the story was still confusing and there was certainly no closure but I knew more about the Comptons and how each of their lives were affected by Caddy. One depended on her for comfort and stability, one was in love with her, and one wanted to control/manipulate her. Caddy certainly had a overwhelming impact on her brothers. It is interesting that she did not get her own chapter.

message 24: by Emily (last edited Feb 18, 2014 07:30PM) (new)

Emily (emilymitton) | 7 comments Am I the only one that finds the second section much more tedious than the first? Benjy's section was weird, but I enjoyed it and it seemed to go pretty quickly, but now I have to force myself to get through Quentin's section and it just keeps dragging on.

message 25: by David (new)

David | 8 comments Deborah wrote: "Actually, Quentin (male) is not the father of Quentin (female), although he tried to convince his father that he had committed incest with Candace. Quentin's father was probably Dalton Ames, althou..."

That's why I've been following this thread carefully - I know there were many things I was missing/misunderstanding. Thanks!

message 26: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (brandiec) Joy, are you asking why I'm sure it wasn't Quentin, or why I think it was probably Dalton Ames?

message 27: by Beth (new)

Beth (k9odyssey) I think Faulkner wants the reader to make inferences and draw conclusions based on context clues. But as we know the clues can be vague. Quentin may have told his father that he committed incest with Caddy because the thought of her with other men was unbearable.

message 28: by John (new)

John Morse (soccerplayer1010) | 1 comments Spoiler alert!
This is my third reading of 'sound and the fury,' and it gets much easier each time. This time, knowing the plot fairly well, I listened to the audio version during some long drives. Then I went back through sparknotes, and now I'm rereading Quentin's section. Faulkner was a big fan of readers having to dig through his work and not just casually read and I think that's part of the intrigue of the work.

There are so many fascinating parts of the novel, i.e. how the novel focuses on Dilsey in the final chapter, instead of Caddy. But, I'm most fascinated with Quentin's character. Here's a guy who has the strongest moral compass, and somehow rejects his father's indifference to virginity, and seemingly rejects the racist legacy of his family by befriending the black chaplain in Cambridge. He tries to take the rap for his sister, he finds the immigrant girl's family. Yet, society no longer rewards such gentility and his suicide indicates that he has no place left to go, and no place in society.

message 29: by Brian (new)

Brian Martin | 4 comments Just joined the group and already read the Sound and the Fury. What's the book for March?

message 30: by Deborah (last edited Mar 01, 2014 08:03PM) (new)

Deborah (brandiec) Welcome, Brian!

You can always find the current and upcoming group reads by clicking the group home page at the top right of this screen. We haven't finalized the March pick, yet; if you want to see which books have been nominated (or nominate one yourself), go to the following thread from the group home page: Nominations - March Group Read.

message 31: by Jack (new)

Jack Templeton | 5 comments To me, the point of this book is not so much found in the characters or in the story (although the story does indeed reinforce his point), but in the style of the writing itself. I think Faulkner is trying to get us to rethink the way we look at and respond to the Idea of Time.
1. the narrative jumps back and forth in time, blurring now vs then
2. the chapters are not arranged in chronological order
3. the absence of punctuation blurs the line between beginning and end.

several passages also support this idea of the meaning of Time :
"... not that you may remember time, but that you might forget now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it."
"Father said clocks slay time."
"One day you'd think misfortune would get tired, but then time is your misfortune. "
"I could see the twilight again, that quality of light as if time really had stopped for a while, with the sun hanging just under the horizon ..."
"... the watch telling its furious lie on the dark table."
"Non fui. Sum. Fui. Non sum." (I wasn't. I am. I was. I am not.)
"then Ben wailed again, hopeless and prolonged. It was nothing. Just sound. It might have been all time and injustice and sorrow become vocal for an instant by a conjunction of planets."

message 32: by Karen (last edited Mar 04, 2014 06:14PM) (new)

Karen This was my favorite book to read by Faulkner, and I agree- I found Quentin'section more difficult than Benjy's. I connected with Benjy's right away, even though the time periods changed, I could follow it well and did have to go back and re-read a bit. Quentin's section left me with a feeling that I was missing something. I can't wait to re-read this. Faulkners ability to get inside the mind of a mentally disabled person's head so accurately amazes me and I just want to read everything he wrote. I have read As I Lay Dying and Absalom, Absalom. AA is my least favorite, difficult. I think I will read Light in August next.

message 33: by Jack (new)

Jack Templeton | 5 comments Karen... last summer I read Sound and fury, As I Lay Dying and The Unvanquished. I loved them all. The Unvanquished was much less difficult to read and also told a great story.

message 34: by Jack (new)

Jack Templeton | 5 comments Karen... last summer I read Sound and fury, As I Lay Dying and The Unvanquished. I loved them all. The Unvanquished was much less difficult to read and also told a great story.

message 35: by Karen (new)

Karen That must have been a great summer

message 36: by Karen (new)

Karen TSATF, my favorite! This book had everything in it- horribly dysfunctional family, how the mentally disabled are treated by different characters during this time period. It had class systems and race, a suicide. I don't think any other author could have told this story more profoundly.

message 37: by Dolores, co-moderator (new)

Dolores (dizzydee39) | 275 comments Mod
Philip wrote: "In the introduction to my edition it was pointed out that italics meant a different time period. Having read many of your comments I think I must have a different mind set. Not only am I able to ..."

Once I looked up the book on the internet and figured out who the characters were, I really didn't have that much problem following Benjy's section or Quentin's. The italics helped separate the time period and also knowing who was taking care of Benjy helped to know what age he was thinking about.

message 38: by Dolores, co-moderator (new)

Dolores (dizzydee39) | 275 comments Mod
Janet wrote: "Deborah wrote: "Joy, as Janet said, Jason's section is much easier to understand than either Benjy's or Quentin's. My copy of the book, published by Modern Library, also contains Faulkner's "Appen..."

I do agree with you Janet about your explanation of what happened with Quentin and Ames. I thought the same thing when I read Quentin's section.

message 39: by Virginia (new)

Virginia | 29 comments One of my favourite books ever

message 40: by Karen (new)

Karen Virginia wrote: "One of my favourite books ever"

Me too! I can't wait to read it again!

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