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The Sound and the Fury

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Introduction

Jaclyn Markowitz 11-16-09 Question 1- Sexuality/Gender Faulkner concentrates on the internal lives of his characters, their memories, and their stream of consciousness, to draw the reader into the specific world the characters create for themselves. Although Faulkner does not give Caddy a voice in the novel, by conjuring her presence through memories, her brothers revel the depth and destructiveness of her sexuality on the family. Caddy's role in the novel is to disrupt the brothers' narratives and challenge the underlying southern social and gender constructs that imbue them. Faulkner uses Caddy to demonstrate the effects of female sexuality on the Compson brother's own sexuality. In this manner, even after Caddy leaves the house, Miss Quentin remains a physical reminder of Caddy's role in the family's demise. Consequently, Caddy remains inevitably connected to all the characters and her presence helped define the rest of these characters themselves. However, the void of her own narrative demonstrates how women's social existence was dependent on male acknowledgement. But to the reader, Caddy remains an elusive mystery whose enforced silence prevents her from ever being known. To her three brothers, she is a source of obsession and irritation that cannot be forgotten or overcome. Faulkner places Caddy at the center of the novel to demonstrate that it remains impossible to avoid female sexuality, despite attempts to suppress it with Southern Values. ...read more.

Middle

However, instead of replaying and idolizing memories of Caddy when she was still unsoiled, as Benjy does, Quentin's memories of Caddy are almost solely of her after she has had sex, which he associates with the redolence of honeysuckle. The scent is also linked in his mind with the trees in the woods where she meet her lovers, and with death: "all cedars cam to have that vivid dead smell of perfume that Benjy hated so much." In this manner, Quentin becomes obsessed with Caddy's sexuality and he cannot even escape her memory at Harvard. What Quentin finds most appealing about Caddy's sexuality is that it is an antithesis of the behavior expected of a traditional woman. His mixture of yearning, fascination, and abhorrence for Caddy is an expression of his distorted sense of his own masculinity and sexual desire. "In the South you are ashamed of being a virgin. Boys. Men. They lie about it. Because it means less to women...He said it was men invented virginity not women," (50). In the South, double standards exist for men and women in the realm of sexuality. Women are supposed to be pure and conservative, while men are allowed to engage in sexual activities. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even once she has left the family, her past presence controls the family's present circumstances. Jason, in particular, only remembers those events in the past that influence his present and his future. However, he can never forgive Caddy for the loss of the job at Herbert's bank, and is therefore incapable of moving on to meaningful opportunities. In each of their narratives, Caddy is a dynamic character whose words, body, and actions expose prevailing social and gender power struggle. She is a tragic character since, as a woman in a patriarchal society, she is not given her own voice or an identity separate from those her brothers give her. By denying her a voice, Faulkner makes Caddy the main focus of her brother's narratives as her past actions dictate her family's present situation. Each brother uses Caddy as a mirror to reflect their own obsessions, but she in turn reflects the cause of their demise. The Compson brother's cannot escape the effects of Caddy's sexuality, as she is the source of their obsession and irritation that cannot be forgotten or overcome. The Compson sense of southern values crumbles in the face of Caddy's promiscuity. Caddy and Quentin emphasize the failures of the Compson mean in comparison to the Compson women, who have successfully escaped the family's demise with their modern values. ...read more.

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