William Faulkner Writing Styles in The Sound and the Fury

This Study Guide consists of approximately 32 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Sound and the Fury.
This section contains 598 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)

Point of View

The point of view of the novel is first person in the first three sections and third person in the fourth section. The first section is told in the first person viewpoint of Benjy Compson. The second section is told in the first person viewpoint of Quentin Compson. The third section is told in the first person viewpoint of Jason Compson IV. The fourth section is told in the third person narrative with Dilsey as the central figure. By writing the first three sections of the novel in the first person of each of the Compson brothers, Faulkner is able to show the different mentalities of the brothers and how they reflect the Compson family.

The story is told through dialogue and exposition through the characters memories of their childhood and their present lives. The novel goes from past to present with no rhyme or reason. It is difficult for the reader to comprehend the exact time of when the events are taking place. There is no transition to the memories. The flow from past to present and present to past is unordered and confusing.

The sections are told by different family members to show the different ways that people react to situations. Benjy is mentally challenged so his view is one of innocence and is unprejudiced. Quentin is unstable and cannot handle the gravity of the situation so that he takes his life. Jason becomes cynical toward life and distrusts everyone. Dilsey is the only one who takes the situation in stride and handles events as they come.

Language and Meaning

The language of the novel is simple because the sections are told by a mentally-challenged man, a college freshman, a young man who works in a farm supply store and the cook of the Compson family. These people have not had formal education so the language is simple and not complex.

The novel is difficult to read because it slips seamlessly from past to present and the reader is confused by this movement in time. The events that are happening are never fully explained so the reader has to guess at what is happening. The suicide of Quentin is inferred. The reader is never told outright that Quentin committed suicide. The reader has to take what they have read and piece it together with the other sections to understand what is happening in the present and what happened in the past.


The Sound and the Fury is comprised of four sections. These sections are long consisting of 50 to 100 pages. The long sections make for a slow read symbolizing the slow deterioration of the Compson family. It makes the novel difficult and slow to read.

The plot of the novel is the deterioration of the Compson family and how each member faces this situation. Benjy has no comprehension of time and morality or understanding of what is happening to his family and their deteriorating status. Quentin cannot accept what is happening to his family and commits suicide. It shows that the past glory of the family is beyond them. Jason becomes cynical and materialistic as a way of dealing with the deterioration of the family. If he does not care and focuses on what he can obtain on his own the past of his family will not matter.

The novel is slow and plodding showing this slow deterioration. It is a story of the struggle of a family as they attempt to accept that the status of their family is declining within the community and how different members accept this decline.

This section contains 598 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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