The use of point of view in “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner
William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" is a challenging novel, and one of its most striking aspects is the use of multiple points of view. The narrative is divided into four sections, each told from the perspective of a different character, and each with its own unique style and voice. The use of point of view in the novel is complex and nuanced, and it serves to deepen our understanding of the characters and their experiences.
The first section of the novel is narrated by Benjy, a mentally disabled man who experiences the world through a series of sensory impressions. Faulkner employs a stream-of-consciousness technique to convey Benjy's perspective, and the result is a disorienting and fragmented narrative. Time is fluid and nonlinear in Benjy's section, and events from the past and present merge together. This technique not only reflects Benjy's perspective but also serves to emphasize the novel's central themes of memory and the role of the past in shaping the present.
The second section is narrated by Quentin, the eldest Compson child. Quentin is a troubled young man, tormented by the weight of his family's legacy and haunted by his own guilt and sense of failure. His section is marked by its intense introspection and fixation on time. Quentin is obsessed with the idea of the past, and his narrative is filled with flashbacks and memories. However, unlike Benjy's section, Quentin's perspective is more linear and structured. Faulkner uses a more traditional narrative style to convey Quentin's interior world, and the result is a deeply introspective and moving portrait of a young man struggling to come to terms with his place in the world.
The third section of the novel is narrated by Jason, the middle Compson child. Jason is a bitter and angry man, consumed by his resentment towards his family and his own sense of powerlessness. His section is marked by its cruelty and violence, as he lashes out at those around him in an attempt to assert his own authority. Faulkner employs a more detached and ironic style in Jason's section, which serves to distance the reader from his perspective and highlight the absurdity of his worldview.
The final section of the novel is narrated by Dilsey, the Compson family's black maid. Dilsey's section is a departure from the previous three, as her perspective offers a different viewpoint on the events of the novel. Faulkner uses a more straightforward narrative style in Dilsey's section, and her voice is characterized by its clarity and wisdom. Dilsey's section serves to humanize the novel's black characters and challenge the racist assumptions of the white characters.
Overall, the use of multiple points of view in "The Sound and the Fury" is a masterful example of Faulkner's experimental style. The different perspectives offer a rich and complex portrait of the Compson family and their disintegration, and they serve to deepen our understanding of the novel's central themes of memory, time, and the search for identity. Faulkner's use of point of view is a key element in the novel's lasting impact and continued relevance in the field of American literature.