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

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

Dilsey, the Compsons' black servant, is the center of the April Eighth part of the book. Dilsey is a shrunken, wrinkled, and arthritic elderly woman. Though now weak, we see that she has a strong spirit:

"She had been a big woman once but now her skeleton rose, draped loosely in unpadded skin that tightened again upon a paunch almost dropsical, as though muscle and tissue had been courage or fortitude which the days or the years had consumed until only the indomitable skeleton was left rising like a ruin or a landmark above the somnolent and impervious guts." April Eighth, pg. 265-56

However physically tired Dilsey may be, she still does the bulk of the work around the Compson household. The section begins Easter morning, as Dilsey is awake early, beginning to fix breakfast, starting a fire in the fireplace and attending to the needs of the family. Luster, her grandson, is usually supposed to do some of this work, but he overslept, having gone to see the road show in town the night before. Mrs. Compson calls for her incessantly, not realizing, or not caring, that a trip up and down the stairs for Dilsey is an incredibly painful one. Instead of offering to help her, she nags her about a number of things, including not having breakfast ready soon enough, and allowing Luster to sleep in this morning. Dilsey tries to shut up her boss as best she can, so that Mrs. Compson can get out of her hair, which will allow her to attend to the tasks of the morning.

Dilsey prepares breakfast, and the whole family, minus Quentin, comes down to eat. In the meantime, Jason has discovered that his window was broken during the night. They send Dilsey up the stairs yet again to fetch Quentin for breakfast. Jason especially wants Quentin to come downstairs, because he wants to question her about the window. Mrs. Compson, Jason and Dilsey see that Quentin is not in her room. Almost instinctively, Jason races to his own closet, and finds that the money he stores in a locked box has been stolen, the lock broken. He calls the sheriff's office to report a robbery. Downstairs, Luster tells Dilsey that he sees Quentin climb out of her window every night, including last night.

Dilsey lets the Compsons handle their situation by themselves for the time being, for she and her family are going to their church's Easter service. She insists on taking Benjy with them. No members of the congregation make any comments to them about it either, because they all have a great amount of respect for Dilsey and her family.

At church, there is a guest preacher, Reverend Shegog, who has come all the way from St. Louis to give his sermon. Though he is supposed to be very famous, he appears tiny and wrinkled, almost comical. As his sermon begins, he doesn't even sound like a black preacher. His inflection, vocabulary and tone are those of a white man's. As he warms up to the crowd, however, his voice warms, and his sermon sounds more like what the congregation had hoped. His voice became beautiful and full of emotion, as described here: "It was as different as day and dark from his former tone, with a sad, timbrous quality like an alto horn, sinking into their hearts and speaking there again when it had ceased in fading and cumulate echoes." April Eighth, pg. 294 Reverend Shegog's voice grew louder and louder, as he paced back and forth, sweating, bringing the congregation to their feet. They sang and cried and exclaimed "Yes, Jesus!" as he repeated over and over, "I got de ricklickshun en de blood of de Lamb!" April Eighth, pg. 295 The sermon also moved the usually distracted Benjy, who sat in devoted attention to the preacher. Seeing this, and being caught up in the emotion of the sermon, Dilsey began to cry, with tears falling down her face even after they had all left church. She murmured to herself, "I've seed de first en de last...I seed de beginnin, en now I sees de endin." April Eighth, pg. 297

Topic Tracking: Compson Curse 10

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