Quentin's Passion and Desire in The Sound and the Fury

Powerful Essays
Quentin's Passion and Desire in The Sound and the Fury

As Quentin Compson travels through the countryside with his college friends, the reality of the situation becomes terribly confused by memories and past feelings. After a little girl follows him for miles around town, his own sexuality reaches the forefront of his consciousness and transforms itself into disjointed memories of his sister Caddy. Quentin's constant obsession in William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, surrounds a defining sexual act with his sister. Though the physical act never appears in plain language, Quentin's apparent lapse into an inner monologue demonstrates his overwhelming fixation with Caddy as well as a textured representation of their relationship. Sexual language pervades his inner consciousness - scents, sounds and colors represent his passion and desire. Elements of nature, when associated with his sister, become erotic; the tiers of description, no matter how seemingly mundane, tend to be steeped in sexuality.

Quentin's lapse into past events with Caddy begins in the midst of typical conversation with his friends as they drive through town. His attention to reality is shattered by an unconscious slip into thoughts of his sister. As the eyes of the little girl snap Quentin into a reverie of sexual exploration, his words wander haphazardly, even before the image of his sister, prone on the banks of the river, comes to mind. "If I tried to hard to stop it I'd be crying and I thought about how I'd thought about I could not be a virgin, with so many of them walking along in the shadows and whispering with their soft girlvoices lingering in the shadowy places and the words coming out and perfume and eyes you could f...

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... environment to evoke such passion. Although Faulkner rarely refers to sexual acts directly, the use of language through Quentin's consciousness and internal monologue is so rampant with erotic metaphor and passionate depth, that a simple object, such as a pocket knife, transforms into the most vital of symbols.

Works Cited and Consulted

Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. New York: Vintage Books, 1984.

Harold, Brent. "The Volume and Limitations of Faulkner's Fictional Method." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 11, 1975.

Hoffman, F. J. and Vickery, O. W. William Faulkner: Three Decades of Criticism. New York, Harbinger, 1960.

Irwin, John T. "A Speculative Reading of Faulkner" Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 14, 1975.

Polk, N. New Essays On: The Sound and the Fury. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993.
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