Societal Symbology in The Sound and the Fury

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Societal Symbology in The Sound and the Fury

A group of independent scientists and historians had determined that mankind was destined to self- destruct in twenty years, despite the best efforts of those who would change the world. Within days of the dire pronouncement, civilization had reverted to its component personality types - revealing the fundamental essence of every person who had heard the news. There were those unable to deal with the imminent doom of the human race, who went home and withdrew into themselves. They were driven by blind fear, and vaguely reached out for a savior. Others enveloped themselves in their daily routine, as if that would protect them from the spiral of death and destruction that they faced in their coming years. Some tried to appear normal, while inside they churned with neurotic loathing and self-despair. But a select few rebel spirits refused to accept fates assigned by computer projections and historical analysis - they sought to change the world before it was too late.

Fortunately, such a situation has yet to occur. But William Faulkner suspects that man's essentially self-destructive nature will lead to ultimate doom, and has constructed the parable of the Compson family in The Sound and The Fury to illustrate how the human race will react to realizing their end. Specifically, each member of the family represents a segment of society; their struggle to avoid their family's disintegration parallels the same fight in the larger world. Caddy represents the few in the world that would refuse to accept their fate. She shows such strength that the entire family depends on her to keep its frail bonds from breaking. Benjy, the idiot man-child, cannot ...

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...ountry suckers who haven't got in to the telegraph office yet" (Faulkner 244). The people Jason represents are self-centered, egotistical and obsessed with the right way of doing things. They do not depend on mankind's saviors, and even regard them as weaklings. Thus, they have their own part in the eventual downfall of the human race.

The end of civilization has been predicted many times, but as yet has failed to occur. So most commentators, especially scientists, preach the gospel of salvation by improvement - research and think enough, then nature will take its course and save us all. Faulkner refuses to accept that man is self-improving, instead asserting that our self-destructive tendencies will ultimately fracture humankind. The disintegration of the Compton family allows him to show that human nature, like entropy, tends toward disorder.
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