The Characters: The Compsons (2)

Throughout the Compson Family History, the Compson’s were a predominant family in the South coming from a line of very successful people.  Throughout time the Compson family has diminished and has lost sight of the traditional values of the south.  This in turn has caused them to lose their social importance to society.

 These are two Links to the media page so that you may see an outline of the Compson Family Tree


Jason Compson Sr.:   The father of the Compson children, and someone whom only comes up every so often during the story line, but is a narrator to the stories in his own way.  He is prominent in other stories presented by Faulkner such as “That Evening Sun.”  In “The Sound and the Fury,” the father is fatally ill and does not have much time left to live.  He however is a major influence on one character in particular, and that character is Quentin.  He influences him by telling him to attempt to escape time and its binds that it holds on human life.  As stated previously seeing as how Jason Sr. is not a very predominant character in the book not much is known except a few details.  He sells a portion of the Compson family land to a golf club so that he may pay for Quentin’s college and Caddy’s wedding.  The father a man of much knowledge and someone who is a detriment to Quentin and when he passes leaves the family line to his son Jason Jr. unknowingly destroying the Compson family in doing so.


Quentin Compson:     The narrator of the second chapter in “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner. This chapter is set on June Second, 1910. Quentin is the oldest of the children of the Compson family.  He is very intelligent, attending Harvard for college and is living there during the time of the narration.  Quentin also is very sensitive and has numerous obsessions. The major one is his obsession with his older sister Caddy but he also has an obsession with time. His everyday life involves a close sense of time. He is always keeping things in order and has everything timed out. His obsession with time is so absurd that his father gives him a watch in hope that it could allow Quentin an occasional moment when he could forget about time. In attempt to follow this he goes to the store and asks for a clock with the wrong time and insists not to be told what time it really is. Quentin maintains a traditional view of the Southern sort of conduct, morality, and maintenance of family values.  Since these values are so engraved into him and has very firm beliefs, Quentin is utterly devastated to learn of Caddy’s promiscuity.  Following the promiscuity of Caddy’s pregnancy, Quentin attempts to convince his father that he has committed incest with his sister and convinces Caddy to run away with him, although she never does, in an attempt to protect his family name and keep the traditional view of family values. When Quentin turns to his father for advice and guidance but learns that even he as well as his sister disregards the traditional southern conduct.  Quentin has a very difficult time trying to cope with the emotional battle he is facing with his family and carries out his thoughts of suicide. He makes purchases of heavy irons which he uses to help to drown out these issues by drowning himself in the river. Quentin is a difficult narrator to understand due to his focus on his ideas while it is often difficult to determine which are true and which are fantasies.


Caddy “Candice” Compson:  The character of Caddy seems to play an essential role in the novel The Sound and the Fury. Caddy is the only girl among three brothers Quentin, Jason and Benjy.  She seems to be admired by both Benjy and Quentin, however hated by Jason. Caddy can be summed up as being sexually promiscuous. She sleeps around, gets pregnant by a man other than her husband, gets married and leaves. Caddy’s character does not have a personal narrative in this story, however plays a vital role in it.

Benjy and Caddy have a unique relationship. Benjy is a mentally handicapped child and seems to depend on Caddy for everything. In the beginning of the novel, Benjy and Caddy are outside and Caddy is trying to get Benjy to keep his hands in his pockets so he doesn’t freeze, while the other members of the family did not seem to care as much about Benjy’s problems. Benjy looks up to Caddy as a role-model and caregiver and loves to be around her. After Caddy left, Benjy truly misses her and because of the events that followed Caddy’s departure, Benjy was eventually castrated. The shoe that Caddy left behind seemed to be Benjy’s only sense of comfort.

Even though Benjy loves Caddy, he loves her in a different way than Quentin. Quentin loves Caddy, but he also is attracted to her in a more physical manner as well. He fantasizes about having relations with Caddy and during their scene in the water, he says “it’s my knife, I dropped it”, referring to the knife in a rather intimate way. When Quentin finds out that Caddy and Dalton Ames had relations, he automatically assumes that it was done against Caddy’s will and then goes to talk to Dalton Ames.

Jason Compson IV:    Jason Compson IV is the third of four children in The Sound and the Fury.  His eldest brother Quentin is very intellectual.  Jason and Quentin are both obsessed with their only sister, Caddy. Quentin’s obsession with Caddy is in a form of love.  Jason on the other hand, is bitter towards her and always wants to get her into trouble.  Caddy is the second eldest and seems to be the motherly figure in her brothers’ lives.  Benjy, the youngest Compson, is completely dependent upon Caddy because he is severely mentally challenged. 

Mr. and Mrs. Compson are mostly to blame for their children’s mental state and the deterioration of the family status.  All of the Compson children have something that they are either bothered by or obsessed with.  The Compson parents were absent in their children’s’ lives both physically and emotionally.  All but Jason were maternally abandoned by their mother, which eventually led to the dependency on Caddy.

Jason Compson is self absorbed and his self-pity is overwhelming.  He blames Caddy for the job he lost at Herbert’s bank and therefore partially explains why he is so hateful towards her.  He does not let it go and it holds him back from achieving anything.  As a result, Jason desires personal gain, even if it as the expense of his family.  After Jason Compson Sr. passes away, Jason Jr. becomes the head of the household, which seems a little ironic due to the fact that he cheats them out of money. 

Quentin Compson (Caddy’s Daughter):       This is the child procreated by Caddy and the Dalton whom she had lost her virginity too.  After being born was sent to live with her grandparents, and in doing so Mrs. Compson forbade that her mother’s name “Caddy” ever be mentioned in their house ever again.  Being named Quentin is an underlying shot at the original Quentin’s manhood.  Her life is difficult because being Caddy’s daughter and not being the daughter of Sydney, whom promised Jason a job, she is automatically blamed for his hardships.  She is not respected by him and is constantly under his radar.  She is a little bit of a rebel much like her mother, and that is another reason why Jason doesn’t much appreciate her.  There is a scene in the book where Jason tells his mother not to worry he will take care of Quentin’s attitude.  Her mother was always sending her money which was stolen from her by Jason.  Quentin returns the favor from her horrid uncle Jason by stealing about $7000.00 from him and running away with a man much like her mother had.

Mrs. Caroline Compson: Mrs. Compson is one of the people that is responsible for all of the problems that the Compson family has. The mother is never there for her children throughout their lives and can be best characterized as a self-centered and whiny woman. In the case of Benjy, she does not have the tolerance or capability of giving him the love and support that he needs, therefore Benjy ends up turning to Caddy for someone to play the mother figure in his life. Mrs. Compson can also be held responsible for Caddy’s promiscuous behavior in her adult years because of the lack of attention given to her. One of the memorable aspects of Mrs. Compson is how she favored one of her children, Jason, even though he was the most perverse child of the family. Overall, Mrs. Compson can be blamed for the problems and eventually the destruction of the Compson family.

Kreig, Stephanie,Rachel,Cory

Works Cited

Moore, Kathleen.  “Jason Compson and the Mother Complex.”  Mississippi Quarterly 53.4 (Fall   2000): 533.  Humanities International Complete. EBSCO.  27 April 2009.

Wadlington, Warwick. “The Sound and the Fury: A Logic of Tragedy.” American Literature        53.3 (Nov. 1981): 409. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. 27 April 2009.

Published on March 24, 2009 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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