The Sound and the Fury

"Obverse Reflections" in Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury College

Born in 1897 in Mississippi, William Faulkner knew black people as servants and laborers, not as equals. Yet, sharing the same space with blacks led him to a deeper understanding of their plight and circumstances. Despite his negative view of black society, in The Sound and the Fury Faulkner reverses the classic allegory of “black = bad” and “white = good.” The blacks represented in the novel are generally more concerned with self-respect and morality where the whites are preoccupied with self-absorption and overwhelming pride. As a result, the representation of the black community in the novel serves as a contrast to the representation of the deteriorating Compson family. As described by Quentin, the black characters are simply “obverse reflections” of white society (86). Likewise, Dilsey, Roskus, and the Deacon are used by Faulkner to accentuate the corrupt and nefarious values of their white counterparts.

Of these characters, Dilsey is especially important. Throughout the novel, Dilsey upholds a moral standard that sharply contrasts the prideful and self-absorbed nature of Caroline Compson. Similarly, she proves to be more of a mother to the Compson children than their own mother. Although she does significantly more work...

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