Essay about A Psychoanalytic Approach to Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury

Essay about A Psychoanalytic Approach to Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury

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A Psychoanalytic Approach to Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury


   In Faulkner's work, The Sound and the Fury, Caddy is never given an interior monologue of her own; she is seen only through the gaze of her brothers, and even then only in retreat, standing in doorways, running, vanishing, forever elusive, forever just out of reach.  Caddy seems, then, to be simultaneously absent and present; with her, Faulkner evokes an absent presence, or the absent center of the novel, as André Bleikasten and John T. Matthews have observed.  The "absent center" is a key term in Lacanian theory, and in order to understand how Caddy's absence, or repression, supports the masculine identity, we'll have to review some Lacanian theory.

 

According to Lacan, at first all children are engaged in an imaginary dyadic relation with the   mother in which they find themselves whole.  During this period, no clear boundaries exist between the [male] child and the external world, and the child lacks any defined center of self.  For the child to acquire language, to enter the realm of the symbolic, the child must become aware of difference.  Identity comes about only as a result of difference, only by exclusion.  The appearance of the father establishes sexual difference, signified by the phallus, the mark of the father's difference from the mother.  The father creates difference by separating the child from the maternal body: He prohibits the merging of mother and child and denies the child the use of the phallus to recreate this union. (Nancy Chodorow says, a woman's entry into the symbolic is different from a man's. The daughter isn't threatened with castration, and identifies with the mother.  Girl longs to recover the lost unity for the m ot...


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...ging a relationship outside the family.  A "lack" exists and is exacerbated by the conscious and unconscious divisions between male characters, Jason and Quentin, and female characters, Caddy and Quentin.  Faulkner does not offer an easy exit or resolution to the paradox.  The "lack" existing within the psyches of Quentin and Jason gives rise to other forms of absence and means to attaining absence, culminating in violence, suicide, and solitude.

 

Works Cited and Consulted

Fowler, Doreen. "Little Sister Death: The Sound and the Fury and the Denied Unconscious,"

Faulkner and Psychology. Ed. Donald M. Kartiganer and Ann J. Abadie. UP Mississippi: Jackson 1994.

Porter, Carolyn. "Symbolic Fathers and Dead Mothers: A Feminist Approach to Faulkner."

Faulkner and Psychology. Ed. Donald M. Kartiganer and Ann J. Abadie. UP Mississippi: Jackson 1994.

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