This section contains 1,516 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Section 1, April 7, 1928
Benjy Compson is being taken care of by Luster. Luster is trying to find the quarter he lost so that he can go to the minstrel show that is coming to town. As Luster takes Benjy around the property looking for the quarter, each place brings up memories of his past. It is Benjy’s thirty-third birthday and Luster has bought him a cake from town. Benjy is watching the golfers and moaning as they play. Luster threatens that he will eat Benjy’s cake if he is not quiet.
Benjy snags his pants on the fence and this sends him back to a time when his sister Caddy helped him get his pants unhooked from the same fence. He remembers wanting to go and wait by the gate for Caddy to come home from school. In the past, Versh, a young Negro boy, takes care of Benjy and makes sure he does not leave the property. Benjy’s thoughts slip from the past to the present seamlessly.
Caddy looks after Benjy as if she were his mother. Uncle Maury sends Caddy with a letter for his mistress Mrs. Patterson. She takes Benjy along and the two are caught by Mr. Patterson attempting to give Mrs. Patterson the letter. In the present, Mrs. Compson is seeing that the carriage is prepared for her and Benjy’s ride to the cemetery. She treats Benjy as if he were a baby even though he is a thirty-three-year-old man.
Luster takes Benjy down to the stream and he has memories of when he was younger and he and his brothers Quentin and Jason and his sister Caddy played by the stream. Caddy was very independent and liked to do things when she wanted to do them. Jason would not follow her lead and would threaten to tell on her. Quentin would follow Caddy’s lead. Caddy, Quentin and Benjy play together, while Jason plays nearby by himself.
Benjy remembers Caddy’s wedding and Quentin beating up T.P. because he allowed Benjy to drink alcohol and get drunk. His mind then switches back to a time they were playing in the stream and Caddy is leading him home. It is supper time and the children are hungry. There are guests at the house so the children eat in the kitchen and are told to keep quiet. The children are to mind Dilsey, the Compsons’ Negro cook. Caddy pleads with her father to let the children mind her and he agrees. Jason refuses to mind her. The children hear their mother crying and are not allowed to go to her. Her mother has died and the guests have come to mourn with the family.
Dilsey’s husband, Roskus says the Compson’s have no luck. The family changed Benjy’s name from Maury to Benjamin when they found out he was mentally challenged and the name change did not help him. Roskus feels that there is something off about the place and the people.
Benjy’s memories go back to Caddy’s wedding and drinking sarsaparilla with T.P. His memories slid from the night his grandmother, Damuddy died to Caddy’s wedding without any breaks. His memories slip to a time when Caddy is fourteen and beginning to wear perfume. Benjy does not like the smell because she no longer smells like Caddy. Mrs. Compson lies in bed as she does most often complaining that she is ill. She lets Caddy be like a mother to Benjy.
Mr. Compson does not like his wife’s brother. He sponges off of the family. This makes Mrs. Compson feel that he looks down on her family and feels that he is superior to her. Caddy sleeps in the same bed as Benjy. He cries when she is not there. She is like a mother to him.
In the present, Caddy’s daughter Miss Quentin is seeing a suitor on the porch swing. She is upset when Benjy and Luster come near them. She thinks that were sent to spy on her. This takes Benjy to a time when he came upon Caddy with her first suitor, Charlie. Benjy is very upset and takes hold of Caddy’s dress trying to pull her away from the boy. She takes him inside and holds him and begins to cry. She then goes to the kitchen sick and washes out her mouth.
Luster tells Quentin’s suitor that Benjy has been deaf and dumb since he was born. He tells him that boys come to see Quentin every night and she climbs out of her window to meet them. Luster and Benjy go to the fence to see if Luster can sell a golf ball to the golfers for a quarter. Going to the fence reminds Benjy of standing by the gate to wait for Caddy to come home from school when she had gotten married and left town. The girls walking home from school would turn their heads and not look at him. He gets out of the gate once and attacks a girl going along the road.
Dilsey gives Benjy and Luster cake to celebrate Benjy’s birthday. Dilsey blames Luster when Benjy cries out for no reason. Luster proclaims that he did nothing to make him cry.
Mrs. Compson is always complaining of being ill. The family must be quiet so not to disturb her. She feels that Caddy and Mr. Compson coddle Benjy too much. She is a harsh woman who does not know how to deal with him. When he starts to cry she has someone take him away. Caddy fights with Jason for cutting up Benjy’s dolls.
Benjy thinks of when Caddy came into the house and would not look at him. He cried and pulled at her dress. His thoughts slip from present to past, the family eating dinner in the past and then the present. Caddy loves Benjy and offers to feed him, while her daughter Miss Quentin asks why he has to eat at the table. It is like eating with a pig. She threatens to run away.
Miss Quentin gives Luster a quarter so that he can go to the minstrel show. He prepares Benjy for bed so he can make it to the show on time. Mrs. Compson locks Quentin in her room each night and looks in on Benjy and kisses him good night. Luster and Benjy watch Quentin climb down the tree outside of her bedroom window.
Benjy’s mind goes back to when he shared a room with Caddy, Jason and Quentin. Their father looked in on them. Caddy holds him and he does not mind the darkness and falls asleep.
This chapter introduces the Compson family. Unfortunately this introduction is in the viewpoint of the youngest son who is a deaf mute. It makes the section difficult to understand. Benjy's mind is jumbled and flits from past to present and present to past so that the reader is left confused about when the events are taking place.
Benjy does not understand the events that he witnesses. He tells what happened without judgment or prejudice. He does not have a sense of morality so he views his family with innocence. He does not understand that his sister has become pregnant out-of-wedlock and that this will cause the family shame. She is still his sister that he loves and misses when she is gone. She is like a mother to him. She is the only family member who shows him complete love and understanding rather than sticking him in a corner.
Through Benjy's memories, the readers see Caddy as a spirited young lady who wants others to follow her lead. She likes to tell others what to do, but does not listen to what others say. This leads her into trouble as she grows older. Her actions have an adverse reaction on every member of the family. She tarnishes the family name. Her daughter, Quentin is just like her mother. She does not like being told what to do and she runs around with lots of different men. She does not want to be like the other members of the Compson family so she emulates her mother except in showing any respect to Benjy. Miss Quentin says he belongs in Jackson. Caddy loves her brother and would not see that happen to him. Quentin is missing the capacity to love because she never received it. She has only known Mrs. Compson, Jason, Benjy and Dilsey. Of the three, Dilsey is the only one who shows her love and she dismisses it as the rest of the family dismisses her.
Discussion Question 1
Why do the Compson's change Benjy's name from Maurice to Benjamin?
Discussion Question 2
How are Caddy and her daughter alike? How are they different?
Discussion Question 3
Why does Benjy associate Caddy with trees? What kind of a connection do the two have with one another?
Jounce, rheumatism, surrey, loony, conjure, lattice, scoundrel, ambush, bedrudge, putrefaction, beller, younder, rile.
This section contains 1,516 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)