The Past, Present And Future In William Faulkner's The Sound And The Fury

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Time has always been an constant but abstract notion, something that is here but not physically tangible. Due to its mysterious nature, there is no certain definition for time. However, it is commonly accepted that time can be divided into three states: the past, present, and future. The past refers to events that have happened beforehand, events that are set in stone. The present is the events that are currently happening. Finally, the future is an imagination of what is going to happen. However, in The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner, the Compson family all are embroiled in a huge fight against time, with each member struggling to get out of the present and back into the past or into the future. Being members of a once prominent aristocratic…show more content…
Benjy, who is described as a “man-child” due to his disability which prevents him from speaking or thinking coherently, constantly jumps around from memory to memory with no indication for the past or the present. Because of his disability, his idea of time changes, with the notions of the past, present, and future all merging together to form one volatile mess. However, even with this disability, Benjy subconsciously realizes that with time passing, his once close relationship with Caddy deteriorates, leaving him all alone in his world. In one day, Benjy’s mind shifts from the present to the past, but one constant in almost all his flashbacks is Caddy and how she smelled like trees. With Caddy being disowned and being chased out of the house after having a divorce with Herbert and having a child with Quentin, Benjy loses the only person who could comfort him and make him hush. It is because of this obsession with Caddy that he keeps shifting in and out of the past with every memory being centered around Caddy and her scent of trees. Because time had deteriorated his relationship with Caddy, he refuses to be a “big boy ... and hush” (44), instead choosing to stay as a young child still living with Caddy. Although he may not realize it due to his disability, his actions show that he is in a struggle against time, refusing to stay in the present but instead living in…show more content…
On June 2nd, 1910, Quentin, who was known as the “intellectual” of the family and was supposed to support the family with his Harvard education, chooses to enter into a battle against time and fails. Although he does not have a disability that forces him to recall and live in the past, his relentless obsession with his sister Caddy drives him to the point of insanity, causing him to realize that there could only be one victor in his battle against time. Just like how the older members of the Compson family are stuck in the past and are delusional due to their denial in acknowledging the fall of the Compson family, Quentin himself is stuck in the past, unable to move on from his obsession with Caddy. In an attempt to go back to the past where he was living with Caddy, Quentin first “tapped the crystal on the corner of the dresser and caught the fragments of glass in [his] hand” (80), breaking the watch in order to signify his first move against time. By stopping the watch from moving its hands and telling the time, Quentin keeps the past, the present, and the future constant, allowing him to prevent time from deteriorating his relationship with Caddy. He realizes that his child with Caddy would soon be born under Herbert’s name, and that Caddy would move away to live with her husband. He also realizes that it would mark the end of their relationship with one another. Because of this, his

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