The Sound and the Fury - Section 4, April 8, 1928 Summary & Analysis

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Summary

Section 4, April 8, 1928

April 8, 1928 is narrated by the author with a focus on Dilsey, the Compson’s cook. It is Easter Sunday. Dilsey emerges from her cabin on the Compson property in her Sunday finery. She reenters the cabin and then emerges in her working clothes. She enters the Compson’s kitchen and then emerges to gather firewood from the woodpile.

Mrs. Compson calls to her from the head of the stairs. Dilsey busy preparing the stove to get it ready to prepare breakfast does not answer fast enough and Mrs. Compson continues calling. Mrs. Compson wants her hot water bottle filled and chastises Dilsey for not being in the kitchen sooner. Dilsey painfully makes her way up the stairs to take the bottle from Mrs. Compson.

Luster has overslept and not prepared the stove. He was out late at the minstrel show. Mrs. Compson says it is Dilsey’s fault for allowing Luster to stay out late. She says Jason will not be happy to hear about Luster’s slacking in his duties. Mrs. Compson goes back to bed and listens to Dilsey’s slow procession down the stairs. She finds it annoying.

Dilsey calls for Luster and he appears around the corner of the kitchen. She questions where he was and he tells her in the cellar. He will not say what he was doing. She has him carry in more firewood. Dilsey then sends him upstairs to get Benjy out of bed. Dilsey starts making biscuits for breakfast, but is interrupted by Mrs. Compson calling her once again. Mrs. Compson complains that Luster has not gotten Benjy up and she does not want Benjy disturbing Jason on his one day to sleep late. Dilsey offers to get Benjy up, but Mrs. Compson complains that breakfast will be late and the Jason does not like when breakfast is late. Dilsey discovers from Mrs. Compson that Benjy is not awake yet so getting him dressed is not a priority. She just shakes her head and tells Mrs. Compson that she will send Luster up to take care of Benjy.

Dilsey goes to the cellar to look for Luster. He emerges before she gets to the door. Luster tells her he is looking for a water leak in the cellar that Jason wanted fixed. She sends him again to tend to Benjy. Luster brings Benjy into the kitchen to sit in front of the fire and tells Dilsey that Mrs. Compson is still waiting for her hot water bottle. Dilsey gives it to Luster to take to her and tells him to check on Jason to let him know breakfast is ready.

Luster returns saying that Jason is complaining that he and Benjy broke the window in his room. Luster denies doing it. Dilsey sets the dining room table for breakfast, but gives Benjy his breakfast in the kitchen. Luster feeds him.

Jason and his mother descend the stairs talking about the broken window. Mrs. Compson comments that she does not have a key to Jason’s room so she could not tamper with it. Jason asks about Quentin and demands that she come down for breakfast even though her normal routine is to sleep late on Sunday and Dilsey puts her breakfast in the warmer. Jason demands that Dilsey go get her to have breakfast with him and his mother. Dilsey chastises him for being mean toward Quentin and Luster and Benjy and asks Mrs. Compson why she allows it. Mrs. Compson says it is neither Dilsey’s place or hers to question Jason’s actions. Dilsey leaves to get Miss Quentin.

Jason complains that the servants are not worth anything. Mrs. Compson says that she has to depend on them so much they must be humored. Jason is upset that his mother has given permission for the servants to go to Easter Sunday service. He complains that he will have a cold dinner. Dilsey cannot get Quentin to come out of her room. Jason becomes upset thinking about his broken window and a thought occurs to him. He runs up the stairs and demands the key from his mother. She locks Quentin in her room at night. They find the room empty. Jason runs to his room and looks into his secret hiding place. He finds his money missing. He calls the sheriff and tells him that he has been robbed and that he will be at his house in five minutes to help track the culprits.

Luster tells Dilsey that he and Benjy saw Quentin climb out the window the night before. They see her do it every night. Luster takes Benjy outside so that he will not disturb anyone. Dilsey cleans up the kitchen and then changes for church. She, Luster and her daughter Fronny take Benjy to church with them. A reverend from St. Louis is supposed to be preaching at the church. Fronny complains that people talk about them taking Benjy to church. Dilsey says it is white trash that is doing the talking. They think that he is not good enough for white church, but that the Negro church is not good enough for him.

The reverend is a small man in a shabby coat. The parishioners are not impressed by him, but he gives a powerful sermon that changes their minds. He has a powerful voice and a persuasive demeanor. Luster takes Benjy off to play when they return home. Dilsey goes to check on Mrs. Compson. Mrs. Compson believes that Miss Quentin has committed suicide and wants to know where the note is. Dilsey tries to convince her that Quentin has not killed herself.

Jason has driven to town and after being blown off by the sheriff goes to look for Quentin on his own. He believes Quentin to be with the man from the traveling minstrel show so heads to the town where they were headed. He is experiencing an intense headache. He makes it to the town and finds the show. He goes into a trailer to look for Quentin and the man in the red tie. He finds another man who attacks him for entering his trailer. He makes it out of the trailer and runs into the owner of the show who tells him that the two are not with the show. He ran them off because he runs a respectable show. Jason is in so much pain that he hires a man to drive him back to Jefferson.

T.P. has not returned and Benjy is upset because the golfers keeping saying caddy. Luster offers to drive him to the cemetery, but Dilsey is not keen on the idea. He convinces her to let him. Benjy is so upset that Dilsey finally agrees. He agrees to go the same way that T.P goes every Sunday. On the way, Luster begins to feel important and wants everyone to see him driving the surrey. They see Jason’s car as they enter town. He also sees a group of Negroes who he wants to impress and deviates from the usual path that T.P. takes to the cemetery. He takes a left at the Confederate monument and Benjy begins to bellow. It is a bellow of horror, shock and astonishment.

Jason comes running toward them. He hurls Luster aside and takes the reins. He swings the surrey to the right of the monument and then strikes Luster berating him for taking him to the left of the monument. Jason demands that they go home and threatens to kill Luster if he ever takes Benjy out of the gate. Luster obeys with Benjy stops roaring when he sees familiar surroundings.

Analysis

This section gives the reader an idea of how the Compson's are seen by the people around them. Dilsey finds Mrs. Compson very annoying. The women is younger than her, but expects the woman to climb the stairs and wait on her when she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. She complains about things that are not a problem. Jason finds her annoying as well. she is a matyr who tries to take the blame for everything.

Jason is upset to find Quentin and his money missing. He knows that she has run off with the man from the minstrel show with his money. Mrs. Compson does not understand why Jason is so secretive or so upset by the broken window in his room. He had three thousand dollars hidden away that he has taken from Caddy over the years for the raising of Quentin. The sheriff questions how Jason has three thousand dollars and if his mother knows about it. This makes Jason angry because he is very secretive and does not want people to get into his business. He gets so upset it gives him a headache that renders him unable to drive himself. Unlike his mother, he has a debilitating illness. Where she is a pretender who takes to her bed to hide away. He takes action that makes his body react in an adverse way when he should be resting in his bed.

Dilsey does not worry about what people think. She attempts to protect Miss Quentin no matter the consequence to her and she watches over Benjy taking him to church with her family because she knows no one else will look after him, while her family goes to church. She finds the Compson family exasperating, but she does not abandon the family because she has been with them so long that they are like her family.

Luster lets his pride get the best of him and is immediately put back in his place. He tries to show the other Negroes that he is better than them because he is driving the surrey. This makes him deviate from the path that Benjy is used to taking and makes him bellow in rage. Everything must be done a certain way so that he recognizes his surroundings. He becomes very upset and scared when the surroundings are unfamiliar. Jason berates Luster because he has scared Benjy and caused a scene in the middle of town. It is an embarrassment to the family.

Discussion Question 1

Why does Mrs. Compson take the responsiblity for everything upon herself? Why do the people around her find this annoying?

Discussion Question 2

Why do people talk about Dilsey taking Benjy to church with her? Do you see it as a problem? Why or why not?

Discussion Question 3

Why does Benjy become so upset when Luster goes to the left of the Confederate monument? Do you think it was right for Jason to berate Luster for doing it? Why?

Vocabulary

Venomous, regal, moribund, somnolent, fatalistic, undulant, raucous, austere, avatar, profundity, daguerreotype, faccid, obtuse, querulous, transience, sibilant, unction, virtuosity, succubus, abnegation, arbitrary, ineffable.

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