The Sound and the Fury

Omniscient Benjy, the Impact of Watching, and Dilsey the Relic

In The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner draws attention to Benjy's ability to watch through his inability to speak. His character tends toward omniscience, as he constantly stumbles upon (or takes part in) various clandestine acts but does not have the power to articulate these events. Through these situations, Benjy emerges as a weakened representative of Jesus, able to see a great deal, but powerless to impact the immoral doings he encounters. The parallels between Benjy and Jesus seem clear; the reader first meets him on his thirty-third birthday, the day before Easter, etc. However, Benjy represents an extremely diluted version of what Jesus "ought" to be, only able to change events through his watching eyes, and even then on only the vaguest of terms, unable to make any real difference in characters' lives. He discovers both Caddy (seemingly the least corrupt Compson) and Quentin in the woods with lovers, making both girls run away from the situation. Even so, in both cases Benjy merely delays the inevitable: Caddy gets married at fourteen, and Quentin elopes the next morning with her lover. Benjy thus plays the contradictory role of a moral "voice" without a voice, making others...

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