Relationship With Time In William Faulkner's The Sound And The Fury

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In William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, the characters’ relationship with time plays a key role in their personal development. Each of the characters to whom Faulkner dedicates a chapter have an alternate view on the passage of time, offering different insights into the way humans interact with it. For Benjy, time is meaningless. Every moment to him feels as though it had just occurred and he cannot differentiate between the past and the present. Simply hearing the name of his sister brings him back in time and he literally relives the moment, unaware that this is only a memory. Time is in constant flux, and attempting to understand his experiences can be disorienting as his brain functions in such a different way from my own. In …show more content…
His relationship with time is almost as complicated as Benjy’s. The beginning of his section mentions him returning to time as he hears the watch his father gave him, the watch his father entitled “the mausoleum of all hope and desire” (76). Thus, we approach him with the awareness of his obsession with time and the pain that it brings. He later breaks his watch, journeys to a watch shop, and simply wants to know if one of the clocks is telling the right time but not what that time is. Perhaps, that relates to the way Quentin views the future, weakening if the moral codes he saw were right but ultimately deciding it was simply better not to know, in case it contradicted with his personal chosen one. Regardless, the future has little importance to Quentin, partially because he has decided to not have one, but it is the past that determines his present. Although Quentin can recognize the difference between the two, time traps him as much as it has trapped Benjy. Any moment in Benjy’s present can resurface his past, while Quentin’s past prevents him from truly living in the present. He inherits the misery and decline of the Compson family along with the task of restoring them to greatness. The family’s hopes and future rely on the one who is strangled by the …show more content…
This role belongs to their servant, Dilsey. Of all the major characters in the novel, only Dilsey seems completely at peace with time. Her section lacks the time changes of the others and thus focuses on the forward motion of the narrative. Though much has transpired during her time with the Compsons, she fails to become bogged down in their misery. She notes that she “seed de beginnin, en now [she] sees de endin” in reference to the Compson family but she seems fairly tranquil with this realization (297). Throughout all events, she endures. She continues to follow a moral code, something Quentin desires, Jason has no use for, and Benjy could never understand. She appears as an incorruptible force of good, in sharp contrast to Jason’s sadistic pessimism. The true path of the future for the Compsons and the South as a whole lies in the example of

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