April Sixth, 1928 (Section 1) Notes from The Sound and the Fury

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The Sound and the Fury April Sixth, 1928 (Section 1)

Jason narrates the section entitled, "April Sixth, 1928," a day before Benjy tells his story. He begins with a commentary on his niece, Quentin: "Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say" April Sixth, pg. 180. The scene opens as Jason, now the man of the house, discusses with his mother, Mrs. Compson, about what they should do with young Quentin. Melodramatic Mrs. Compson, a hypochondriac, constantly laments her and her family's state. The only thing for which she is thankful is that her favorite son, Jason, is still around to help her relieve all of her burdens, one of which is her grandchild. A teenage troublemaker, Quentin skips school all the time, dividing her hours among several young men of the town.

After talking with his mother, Jason storms into the kitchen, ready to whip Quentin for her bad behavior. Dilsey tries to get between the two of them, but he shoves away the frail, arthritic old woman. Ready to beat Quentin with his belt, Jason stops as he sees Mrs. Compson hobble down the stairs. Quentin is safe momentarily from Jason's belt. He lets her get ready for school, and in the meantime yells at Luster for not fixing his tire. We also find that Benjy's retardation terribly humiliates his brother. If it were up to Jason, he would send his big brother to a home in Jackson.

Quentin comes downstairs, ready to go to school. Jason has an incredibly adversarial relationship with his niece, evidenced by the previous scene, and by the fact that they immediately begin to squabble the minute Quentin gets in the car. This time, they fight over who pays for her expenses. While she says her mother's monthly checks pay for everything she needs, Jason counters, "Ask her [your grandmother] what became of those checks. You saw her burn one of them, as I remember." April Sixth, pg. 187 They continue to exchange harsh words on the way to school. As they arrive on campus, Jason chides her for being such a loose woman. She tells him defiantly, "I'm bad and I'm going to hell, and I don't care. I'd rather be in hell than anywhere where you are." April Sixth, pg. 189

Topic Tracking: Compson Curse 7

After dropping Quentin off at school, Jason continues in his car to his job, where he works as a store manager. In his mail, he finds a check and a letter from Quentin's mother, asking him why she hasn't heard at all from him about the welfare of her daughter. Jason puts the letter away to discuss his stocks. His gambles aren't garnering much profit. In his discussions with fellow townspeople, Jason expresses his disgust with east coast Jews, and is constantly exasperated with any black person he encounters. He believes that eastern establishment Jews are taking the money he has invested in the stock market, and he is never satisfied with any work a black laborer has done. He goes back to find a letter from a girlfriend in Memphis, telling him how much she misses him. He destroys it, thinking to himself:

"I never promise a woman anything nor let her know what I'm going to give her. That's the only way to manage them. Always keep them guessing. If you cant think of any other way to surprise them, give them a bust in the jaw." April Sixth, pg. 193

He is about to open a letter addressed to Quentin from her mother. Before he can do that, however, he is called to work. While working, he has a flashback to his father's funeral. He died only one year after Quentin did. This takes Jason's memory back one year earlier, when young Quentin was brought to the Compson house as a baby. As usual, Mrs. Compson cries and complains about the new burden in her life. This is the first time we find out for certain that Caddy is Quentin's mother. The reason Quentin will be raised by the Compsons is because Herbert, Caddy's husband, has kicked Caddy out of their house, for sleeping with another man. In fact, Caddy doesn't even know who Quentin's father is.

Topic Tracking: Compson Curse 8

Her loose ways have disgraced her family so much that Mrs. Compson forbids everyone in the household from uttering her daughter's name. Even though Mr. Compson and Dilsey don't want to completely shut out Caddy from the family, Mrs. Compson is adamant that Quentin will know as little as possible about her sinful mother.

Jason's memory moves ahead to his father's funeral again. As they put his father to rest, Jason becomes as tender as we will ever see him: "Well, I got to...watching them throwing dirt into it, slapping it on anyway like they were making mortar or something or building a fence, and I began to feel sort of funny and so I decided to walk around for a while." April Sixth, pg. 202

While he wanders around, he bumps into Caddy, who is donning a black mourning veil for her father, whose death she had to find out about in the obituary section of the newspaper. Jason warns her that the family wouldn't want her there. She pays him one hundred dollars to see her baby girl. He says he would do it only if she promises to leave on the train that night. She promises to do so, but does not know that Jason will trick her. Jason is still bitter about not getting a job with Herbert's bank, and blames Caddy for it. Though he does smuggle the baby out of its cradle, he holds it up as he rides past Caddy in a carriage, allowing his sister to barely catch a glimpse of her own daughter. She doesn't leave town that night, but instead confronts Jason the next day at his store. They exchange curses with each other, and Caddy storms out of the store. When he returns home from work, he hears Benjy's uncontrollable bellows. From this clue, he knows that Caddy has visited home, and then finds out that Dilsey is the one that allowed her into the house. Though he berates her for doing it, she stands up to him. He threatens Caddy afterwards, and told her, "if she tried Dilsey again, Mother was going to fire Dilsey and send Ben to Jackson and take Quentin and go away." April Sixth, pg. 208 She leaves, making Jason promise to take care of young Quentin.

His flashback ends, and Quentin enters the store as he opens Caddy's letter for her. In the letter is a money order for her daughter worth fifty dollars. She demands the money, not seeming to care about what her mom has written her. Jason does not let Quentin touch the money order. He lies to her, saying it's only worth ten dollars. Quentin is not at all happy with that small sum of money. Even after she begs him to see the order, he refuses, and hands her a ten-dollar bill from his own pocket, threatening to take the check home to her grandmother, who burns every check Caddy sends. She signs the back of the money order, still not having seen the dollar amount, and sulks her way out of the store.

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