The Sound and the Fury April Seventh, 1928 (Section 1)
The novel begins April 7, 1928. We are first introduced to Benjy and Luster. Benjy inexplicably moans and cries. His bellows are deafening, and his thoughts do not flow logically from one to the next, so we can thus quickly presume that he is mentally handicapped. Luster is Benjy's family's servant, and must follow Benjy around and attend to his every need. As the scene begins, Benjy stands on the outside of a golf course, moaning, but Luster is only concerned with finding his precious quarter to see a circus coming to town that night, and thus is impatient with his charge. Benjy's mind travels back and forth in time. Places, objects, smells, and other characters' mere presence seem to trigger Benjy's flashbacks to his childhood. For example, as he tries to climb under the fence and snags himself on a nail, he remembers a time as a child when Caddy, his sister, unsnags him from the same fence, and helps him crawl through.
This flashback takes place at a Christmas when Benjy was a child. Here, we meet Caddy, Versh, a family servant, Benjy's mother, and his Uncle Maury. When Caddy returns home from school, she wants to go outside and play with her brother. Mrs. Compson is very worried that her little baby will get sick in the winter cold. Uncle Maury convinces her that the kids will be fine. While Benjy's mother calls him her "poor little baby," Caddy treats him as though there were nothing wrong with him. She also lets him know that he can always depend on her: "'You're not a poor baby. Are you. Are you. You've got your Caddy. Haven't you got your Caddy.'" April Seventh, 1928, pg. 9
As Benjy and Luster pass by the carriage house, Benjy's mind then races ahead to a time when he and his mother took a trip in their carriage to the cemetery.
One of Mrs. Compson's other children, Jason says, "Father and Quentin can't hurt you" April Seventh, 1928, pg. 11. He is referring to Mrs. Compson's husband and son, Quentin, whose graves Mrs. Compson and Benjy are going to visit. For a moment, Benjy's mind travels backwards to the aforementioned Christmas with Caddy. Uncle Maury had asked the two of them to deliver a letter to their neighbor, Mrs. Patterson. He instructed them to keep it a secret, and Mrs. Patterson appeared anxious while receiving it in her husband's presence, but we don't know what the letter says.
As Luster follows Benjy around the neighborhood, he runs into a friend of his. They talk about today being Benjy's 33rd birthday. While Luster searches for his quarter, he tells Benjy to go play in the creek. Wading in the water reminds Benjy yet again of his childhood.
In this scene, Caddy, Quentin, Versh, Jason, and Benjy are all present. Caddy and Quentin's clothes got wet while playing, and the children squabble and threaten to tell on each other to Dilsey and their parents. At the time, our narrator was not called Benjy: "'Carry Maury up the hill, Versh.' Versh squatted and I got on his back." April Seventh, 1928, pg. 20
Benjy's memory then jumps forward to an evening where T.P. and Quentin get drunk off of sassprilluh. A wedding is taking place at the same time, but nobody mentions whose it is. In their drunkenness, they make Benjy try the alcohol, and Versh must eventually carry Benjy back to bed.
Benjy's memory of Versh takes him back again to the same night when all the children were playing by the creek. Roskus, T.P.'s father, tells the kids to come back home; their parents had company. Though Caddy tries to convince herself and the other children otherwise, their parents were not enjoying the wedding. Their father doesn't seem to care about their mischief, but only tells them to listen to Dilsey, Roskus' wife, who seems to run the entire household. All the children can figure out is that their mother is upset and isn't feeling well. Dilsey shuttles them away from the house to Versh's quarters, and Benjy's impressions jump ahead to a scene where Roskus is milking cows in the barn.
Here, he gives Dilsey his opinion on the Compson family, and also confirms the earlier guess that Benjy's parents changed his name: "'They ain't no luck on this place.' Roskus said. 'I seen it at first but when they changed his name I knowed it.'" April Seventh, 1928, pg. 29
Abruptly, Benjy's mind jumps to two years later. In this scene, we find out that Frony is Dilsey's daughter, and Luster is her son. Still a baby at the time, Luster plays with a member of the Compson family, a little girl named Quentin, whose parentage is not revealed. Roskus repeats his belief that the Compson family is unlucky, and states another reason why: "'They aint no luck going be on no place where one of they own chillen's name aint never spoke.'" April Seventh, 1928, pg. 31. Here, we find out that the Compsons no longer speak of one of their children.
Benjy's mind again returns to the night when something was wrong at the Compsons, but the children had no idea what that was. Caddy insisted the entire evening that every child should mind her, but she had no more idea as to what was going on as anyone else did. In fact, Frony let it slip that she knew that Damuddy, the Compsons' grandmother, had died. Caddy refuses to believe her, and Jason starts to cry. Caddy wants to prove to everyone that a party, not a funeral, is going on, so Versh boosts her up to peek into the window from an outside tree: "We watched the muddy bottom of her drawers." April Seventh, 1928, pg. 39 She sees nothing but adults standing around looking solemn. Peeking into the window reminded Benjy of seeing a more grown up Caddy with flowers in her hair.
This was the same night of the wedding, when Quentin and T.P. made Benjy drink sassprilluh. Benjy then narrates a frenzied, disconnected series of senses he feels while drunk. He ends up crying, and says that Caddy was there to comfort her, in her "shining veil," April Seventh, 1928, pg. 40, on the day of her wedding. Benjy enjoys his memories of Caddy and continues to think of her, this time, when she was only fourteen. He had been crying and moaning, and while Dilsey was very patient with him, Caddy was the only family member who took the time to see what was wrong with him, and spent time comforting him and playing with him. Just for his own happiness, Caddy still agreed to sleep in the same bed with him.
Benjy's memory rewinds again to the night the children found out their Grandmother died. Dilsey found the children, and ordered them back inside the house.