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The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury research papers state that the most challenging contrast in William Faulkner’s 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury is the significant shifts that occur in the narrative technique Faulkner uses in each of the four main sections of the novel. The reader shifts from Benjy’s stream-of-consciousness narration, in which arbitrary distinctions between time do not exist, to Quentin’s abstract, time-obsessed narrative, to Jason Compson’s wrathful, self-serving, unreliable narration, to the narration provided by an omniscient narrator who focuses on domestic worker Dilsey, the most seemingly balanced character in the entire narrative.

The Sound and the Fury

The reader in The Sound and the Fury is jarred in the transition between these highly contrasting narrative techniques. However, although Faulkner experiments boldly with exposition and narration in the text, he does grant the reader the stability afforded by the fact that his four narrators are describing varying interpretations of the same events. By the time that a reader approaches Dilsey’s exceedingly sensible section, that reader is aware of the general events that transpired over Easter weekend of 1928. In this way, Faulkner allows himself broad freedom in contrasting narrative techniques, which he then counterbalances with the underlying similarities in the events and scenes that are described in turn by each narrator.

This represents just one aspect of the complex system of parallels and contrasts that Faulkner constructs throughout The Sound and the Fury. In addition, there are a number of parallels and contrasts between The Sound and the Fury and Faulkner’s subsequent novels. Most notably, Faulkner later resurrects Quentin Compson as one of the narrators of Absalom, Absalom!, although many critics concur in their assertion that the later incarnation of Quentin differs considerably from his narration in The Sound and the Fury.

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