The Sound and the Fury

Delusional History: Escaping the Past in "The Sound and the Fury"

For Benjy and Quentin Compson, memory in "The Sound and the Fury" is a tool for discovering and escaping reality. Both brothers have trouble seeing the past as part of a chain linked to both the present and the future. Benjy does not recognize linear time, giving his memories the same qualities as his contemporary experiences. Quentin chooses to ignore his present and live in his childhood memories. Both brothers find solace in their recollections of the past because they are seeking protection from an unpredictable world that is moving faster than they can keep up.

Benjy is allowed to narrate first, because he is the only one who is incapable of lying. He cannot embellish stories, nor can he control his memories. Due to his severe mental disability, he is cannot think subjectively; to him, life is an endless present tense of images, sounds, and thoughts that he cannot decipher, reflect on, or arrange in any meaningful manner. He has no concept of time; because his memories are seamlessly connected to visual and auditory cues from the present, he considers them equivalent to current experiences. As a result, he is unaware of the concepts of cause and consequence, and does not hold onto grudges or guilt like his...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 944 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7601 literature essays, 2153 sample college application essays, 318 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in