Notes on The Sound and the Fury Themes

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The Sound and the Fury Topic Tracking: Time/Memory

April Seventh, 1928

Time/Memory 1: The first scene in the novel shows us that Benjy's mind and memory do not travel in easy to follow, logical pathways. Anything can take his mind back to times past. In this instance, snagging his clothes on the fence in the yard reminds him of a time when Caddy helped him get uncaught from a fence post when they were children. Concrete objects, smells, tastes, and other tactile senses set off his memory, making the record of his entire life a convoluted jumble of events.

Time/Memory 2: As he passes the carriage house, he is reminded of a time where he took a ride in the carriage with his mother. This is another example of how an object triggers his memory

Time/Memory 3: Here, Luster orders Benjy to play in the creek in order to get him out of his hair for a minute. The thirty three year old man wades in the water, and is again reminded of a time as a very small child, when he and his siblings played in the creek as children.

Time/Memory 4: This is an example of one of Benjy's memories triggering yet another memory. Here, he sees an image of a young Caddy, peeking into the house, dirty drawers exposed. This image reminds him of a more grown up Caddy, looking beautiful while getting married at home.

Time/Memory 5: At the present time, seeing Caddy's daughter, Quentin, reminds Benjy of a teenage Caddy. Though they look similar physically, Quentin does not treat Benjy with nearly the same amount of affection Caddy ever did.

Time/Memory 6: Here, Benjy celebrates his birthday by blowing out the candles on his cake. The candles' flames, and Luster's whispering of the name "Caddy" remind him of a time when he and Caddy were by the fire together, crying.

June Second, 1910

Time/Memory 7: Quentin begins narration of his section by talking about the heirloom watch his father gave him before going to Harvard. His father's first quote is representative of the depressing pieces of advice he gives to his son throughout the section. Here, he tells his son not to try and fight time, for it is unconquerable.

Time/Memory 8: Quentin was very excited to go to the watch repair store. Here, he becomes spellbound by the different times the many watches kept. He was very curious to know if any of them told the correct time. After glancing at his watch that still worked, he expressed that it held everything he used to be sorry about. His quote indicates how important time is to Quentin.

Time/Memory 9: At this point in the novel, Quentin has mulled over his obsession with his sister. Here, he recalls a conversation he has with his father about the nature of his obsession and the root of his problem. After he and his father talk for a long while, Mr. Compson tells his son that his pain is only temporary. This did not comfort Quentin, however, but only made him more anxious. The temporary, as opposed to permanent, quality of his pain is what really started to bother Quentin.

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