The Significance of Order and Pattern in The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The Significance of Order and Pattern in The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

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The Sound and the Fury ends with Luster and Benjy's unfortunate journey to the cemetery to visit Mr. Compson and Quentin's tombs, a trip that Benjy makes every Sunday. The chaos that ensues in this scene proves to be an interesting analysis for the conclusion of the novel. It demonstrates to the reader that the Compson family is truly unable to escape its patterns of thought and behavior. This important theme of the novel is shown throughout the novel, through Quentin’s obsession with time and the guilt he feels over Caddy’s situation, Mr. Compson’s nihilistic attitude that leads to his alcoholism and eventual death, and Mrs. Compson’s constant referral to herself as a victim, but this final scene of the book fully brings it to an interesting and culminating close. The reader can see just how much the family’s obsession with patterns and order has done nothing but contribute to their social decline, demonstrated in this scene by Jason’s continued maltreatment of his brother. However, the reader also learns in this scene that order and pattern are necessary for Benjy to function. Therefore, the reader is faced with a difficult decision: Is it better to continue repeating negative thoughts and behaviors in order to keep Benjy content, or would it be best for Benjy and the family if they could completely change their ways?
On Easter Sunday in 1928, Luster drives Benjy to the cemetery, after much convincing of his grandmother Dilsey. As the carriage approaches the Confederate soldier monument on the courthouse square, Luster attempts to show off in front of a “group of negroes,” and decides to change the route that Benjy is accustomed to, which proves to be utterly disastrous (Faulkner 319). Luster only alters the route slightly, and ...

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... order of the Compson family is, especially the family’s treatment of Benjy, it is better for Benjy to have a sense of pattern and order in his life. Through the last scene, the reader can see that Benjy was happiest when Jason restored order back into their trip, even though he did it violently and with questionable intentions. It is easy, and justified, for the reader to be disgusted by the family’s treatment of Benjy, but he generally seems content in his life, probably because he has never known any other option. This was a sad reality of mental deficiencies at the time of the novel, but its depressing nature does not change the fact that keeping patterns and order, even if they were negative, was the best thing for Benjy to function at his highest level possible.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.

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