The Sound and the Fury June Second, 1910 (Section 1)
Quentin, Benjy's brother, narrates this chapter of the book. He tells his story on June 2, 1910, while attending Harvard University in Massachusetts. The scene begins as he wakes in his dorm room to the ticking of a watch his father gave to him. When the elder Compson handed it down to Quentin, he shared with him his defeatist opinion about life:
"I give it [watch] to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools." June Second, 1910, pg. 76.
In the present day, Quentin decides to cut class. As he lies in bed, his mind every once in a while drifts to conversations he has had with his father. In one, Quentin laments that he wishes that he were the "unvirgin" instead of "her" being the "unvirgin." The "her" he refers to is his sister, Caddy. He ends almost every paragraph repeating the phrase, "That never had a sister." June Second, 1910, pg. 77 He also insists that he has committed incest with Caddy. His virgin status calls into question his confession of incest. We find that the sexual aspect of incest does not seem to be what attracts him to the act. Instead, he likes the idea of being punished with Caddy for his wickedness:
"Because if it were just to hell; if that were all of it. Finished. If things just finished themselves. Nobody else there but her and me. If we could just have done something so dreadful that they would have fled hell except us. I have committed incest I said Father it was I" June Second, 1910, pg. 79
His father tries to ease his pain and anguish with his cryptic wisdom: "It's not when you realize that nothing can help you--religion, pride, anything--it's when you realize that you don't need any aid." June Second, 1910, pg. 80.
For the moment, Quentin's mind returns to the present. He breaks the face of his relentlessly ticking watch, packs a trunk full of clothes, and writes two notes, one of which, along with his trunk key, he addresses to his father. The other note goes to Shreve. While he was finishing this, he momentarily flashes back to glimpse at Caddy, running in her bridal gown, towards Benjy's bellows. It was the same wedding night Benjy had remembered when T.P. got drunk. Quentin's thoughts return to the present, and he leaves his dorm to run errands for the day. He visits a watch shop to fix the one he had just broken. While there, he appears to be spellbound by the many different, contradictory tickings of the shop's clocks, and asks the owner if any of them told the correct time. None did. The owner found nothing wrong with his watch, for it still kept time correctly, so Quentin leaves. While leaving, he glances at his watch again, thinking that it was "Holding all I used to be sorry about like the new moon holding water." June Second, 1910, pg. 85
Quentin then visits a hardware store, where he buys two flat irons. When he gets on the streetcar to leave the store, he sits behind an African-American man, which prompts him to think about his attitudes towards "colored folks." He finds that he misses Roskus and Dilsey.
Quentin gets off the car and stands along the Charles River, leaning against the railing. While staring at his long shadow, he thinks, "Niggers say a drowned man's shadow was watching for him in the water all the time... What a sinful waste Dilsey would say. Benjy knew it when Damuddy died. He cried. He smell hit. He smell hit." June Second, 1910, pg. 90 Watching the crew team, Quentin's thoughts turn to less morbid subjects. He sees a fellow Southerner and Harvard classmate, Gerald. His mother, Ms. Bland, spoils him and is quite overprotective, having bought herself an apartment Cambridge, while her real home is in Kentucky. Quentin's thoughts of Gerald quickly turn to thoughts of his sister. He sounds almost jealous in the way he remembers Caddy fooling around with a young man named Herbert, whom she ends up marrying in April of the same year that Quentin writes. Quentin's mind returns to a few months earlier, at home with his family and Herbert. Caddy's fiancé had just bought her a car, and we hear Mrs. Compson's voice raving on and on about how wonderful Herbert is, and how great it is that he might invite young Jason, her favorite son, to join him in his bank.
During the course of the entire conversation, Quentin keeps thinking to himself that his sister never meets his gaze. Quentin's images of his sister always seem to mingle with the scent of honeysuckle. We also find out during his flashback that the family sold Benjy's pasture in order for Quentin to attend Harvard. Mrs. Compson's voice enters Quentin's head, and we hear she and her husband arguing about Caddy. The subject of Caddy's promiscuity upsets Quentin, and he asks his father why he had to be so blunt about his sister's exploits. His father replies, "I didn't mean to speak so sharply but women have no respect for each other for themselves" June Second, 1910, pg. 96. Quentin is determined that, "Father and I protect women from one another from themselves our women" June Second, 1910, pg. 96.
His father knows that they must at least try and protect the Compson women, for his rather biased wisdom dictates that women "have an affinity for evil for supplying whatever the evil lacks in itself... until the evil has served its purpose whether it ever existed or no." June Second, 1910, pg. 97
Mrs. Compson's voice returns to Quentin's thoughts, and, as usual, she complains about how her family is ungrateful and selfish, a trait of the Compsons, not the Bascombs (her maiden name). She laments that Caddy has disgraced the family, yet how she did it is still unknown. She says that her son Jason is the only one that cares about her, and she begs the elder Jason to let the two of them go live together, so that they may escape their curse.