Annotated Bibliography on Race in The Sound and the Fury

Annotated Bibliography

Dahill-Baue, William. “Insignificant monkeys: Preaching Black English in…” Mississippi Quarterly 49.3 (Summer96 1996): 457. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. 28 Apr. 2009 <;. In this journal article Dahill-Baue argues that Faulkner highlights black characters insignificance such as, Reverend Shegog in various points in The Sound and the Fury.  When Reverend Shegog speaks in front of the congregation his initial speech is “Black English”, but later on he uses “linguistic masking” to hide the black vernacular.  Further on in his speech, Shegog slips, reverting back to “Black English” where Faulkner attempts to prove African Americans are inferior to whites regardless of how much they try to assimilate.  The fact Faulkner references Shegog as “insignificant” and a “monkey”, yet allows him to speak “proper English” for a portion of his speech seems as though blacks are tricksters trying to mask themselves as whites. 

Davis, Thadious M. “Faulkner’s “Negro” in The Sound and the Fury.” The Sound and the Fury. Comp. David Minter. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983. Print.  Davis’ article in the novel argues that Faulkner respectfully illustrates Negroes in the South by escaping from the stereotypes authors prior to him focus on.  He uses the Gibson’s as a way to look inside the black world from the outside perspective of a white man.  The Gibson’s are a key factor in further showing the decline of the Compson’s.  While the whites in the story view blacks as less than through dialect and their actions, Faulkner also creates the black characters as more intelligent and closer to being like God, at least Dilsey’s character.  The black characters demonstrate a sense of community and bonds through faith.  Unlike the Compson’s, the Gibson’s are always there from one another.  Davis’ piece explains the significance of the black characters.  The two family’s values and priorities are clearly different.  The white characters idea of superiority over blacks makes them look ignorant when compared to the way black characters live.

Davis, Thadious. “Jim Crow” and The Sound and the Fury.  Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.  Thadious Davis wrote on The Sound and the Fury and suggests that the Compson family, or the whites in general, need the Gibson’s, or blacks in general, to show them the cultural roots and to help them whenever they need them.  In one part of the book Quentin is crying and calling for his mother and Dilsey comes and comforts him.  When he is feeling better he pushes her away and tells her not to touch him and proceeds to call her a “nigger”.  Jason uses people as a synonym for whites, and the term nigger for blacks because to him blacks are not people since they are not white.  When Quentin meets Deacon, Quentin does not see Deacon as Quentin’s equal, but as Roskus’ equal because he thinks only whites can represent whites, and only blacks can represent blacks.  Deacon recalls reality for Quentin and Deacon knows how to cope with life and change to make it easier for him, but Quentin does not know how to do this.

Dobbs, Cynthia. “Ruin or Landmark”? Black Bodies as Lieux de Memoire in The Sound and the Fury. Faulkner Journal 20.1/2 (Fall2004/Spring2005 2004): 35-52. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. 28 Apr. 2009 <;.  Dobbs journal article attempts to argue the black bodies mentioned in The Sound and the Fury, and their significance to dialect, and the derogatory images they evoke.  Dilsey’s body is deemed ugly, while Reverend Shegog is referenced as a monkey.  While Dilsey’s body is described negatively, the skeleton provides a sense of hope because it is the only thing she has left.  She is worn down, but not defeated.  There is not much left of Dilsey, but she continues to be a strong woman even when it seems she has nothing more left to give.  Blacks are torn down, but Faulkner’s dual perspective enables the reader to see how they are incorrectly viewed by whites.  Her article is sporadic and not very beneficial. Dobbs ideas are applicable, but the reader is better off taking her main idea, the ruin of the black bodies, and drawing their own conclusion.

Ellison, Ralph. “Twentieth Century Fiction and the Black Mask of Humanity.” The Sound and the Fury. Comp. David Minter. New York: Random House, 1953. Print.  Ellison’s criticism in the novel argues Faulkner’s ability to write about the view point of the anti-negro to those who are interested in informing those who are anti-negro to the accomplishments and hardships of blacks.  He explains the greatness of Faulkner comes from his dual perspectives and the complexity of the black characters.   By using the dialect he chose, Faulkner was able to discover the nature of man.  Ellison’s input was very insightful by bring attention to the different aspects of his writing. 

Howe, Irving. “Faulkner and the Negroes.” The Sound and the Fury. Comp. David Minter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975. Print.  Howe explains Faulkner’s extreme tension when writing about blacks and how they are presented throughout the novel.  Although Dilsey and her family are black and only close to the Compson’s because they are hired help, there is a sense of bonding that occurs between the children regardless of race.  For being a black servant in the South, Dilsey is respected more than most, at least by the children.  On the other hand, Mrs. Compson’s treatment of Dilsey is cruel, but Mrs. Compson’s actions allow the reader to see the perseverance and dedication Dilsey has.  The treatment of blacks is complex because of the responsibilities assigned.  While Dilsey is a black servant in the South, she is also the caretaker and motherly figure of the white children.  Howe’s criticism in the novel was helpful to see a different insight on Faulkner’s relations between blacks and whites.

Paradiso, Sharon Desmond. “Terrorizing Whiteness in Yoknapatawpha County.” Faulkner Journal 23.2 (Spring 2008): 23-42. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. 28 Apr. 2009 <;.  Although this journal article is primarily about the novel Absalom, Absalom! Paradiso discusses the Compson’s, Dilsey, and how race is viewed in Yoknapatawpha County.  She argues that Dilsey is enduring terrorizing whiteness due to the fact even after the Emancipation she is devoted to her white family, regardless of the way she is treated.  Contrasting that statement, she goes on to say how Dilsey’s frustrations with Mrs. Compson are building, but not obvious because she keeps her thoughts to herself even though she is in a great amount of pain.  “Faulkner does not provide Dilsey’s thoughts, even going so far as to compare Dilsey with a cow, one of the most mindless of farm animals”.  The reference of Dilsey to an animal illustrates how insignificant blacks are compared to whites.  At the same time, Faulkner is able to show how devoted she is to the family and that she has more strength than any other character in the novel by continuing on even when she wants to give up.  This article seems contradictory, but did provide useful information on Dilsey and her interaction with the Compson’s.

Straumann, Heinrich.  “Black and White in Faulkner’s Fiction…”  English Studies 60.4 (1979): p.462, 9p.  This journal article was written by Heinrich Straumann over race in William Faulkner’s work.  He writes about Dilsey’s character and her unshaken bond with the Compson family over the span of 30 years.  She is the only one with a balanced state of mind, and becomes a symbol for Christian love.  Straumann brings up the idea that all these characteristics in Dilsey would not be seen if she were a white woman.

Published on May 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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