The Sound and the Fury

The Religious Motif and Its Status in The Sound and the Fury

William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury deals with man's relationship with time and sequence. The complexities of the book, from its variety of narrators to the order of its chapters, support Faulkner's primary experimentation with time. But The Sound and the Fury interweaves the time motif with other recurring ideas or elements, with a particularly strong one being Christianity. This motif is less fully developed and less impressively executed. In fact, Faulkner's novel as an exploration of man's relationship with time is weakened by the inclusion of the lesser motif of religion.

The sheer volume of religious symbols and parallels is at first not clear (or simply not apparent), but it then becomes more and more obvious, and even reaches the point where it is so obvious that it borders upon the silly, if it is interpreted unironically. Of course, there is a baseline level of religiousness that is to be expected in any novel whose characters are Americans from the South in the early twentieth century. Indeed, Scriptural verses are often quoted or referred to, and a substantial portion of the fourth chapter takes place in a church. But on top of this foundation of Southern spirituality, Faulkner piles on...

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