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Mindset and Character of Quentin in Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury

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The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner : Style Analysis

In the opening of June 2, 1910, the narrator creates an educated and reflective tones, by giving us insightful guidance, while thinking about his father. He talks about some of life’s principles that he learned through his father and gives us his opinion about it. He puts great emphasis on his father’s teachings and tries to derive lessons from them.

Faulkner’s specific diction highlights the thoughtfulness of the character and his idea of time. Mr. Compson argues that time is a “mausoleum” and a “reducto absurdum of all human experience” that can be a “symptom of mind-function”. By saying that time is reducto absurdum, or reduced to absurdity, Mr. Compson believes that life is insignificant since we will all die at some point. The narrator ponders on the paradox that’s been presented to him from his father, which is greatly puts him into deep thinking. Furthermore, he refers to his father as “Excrement”, because he thinks that one can be “oblivious” to time; his relationship with his father is the “shadow” that will bring his death. Quentin believes in his father’s values, but later on he comes to realize that he himself has forgotten those values. Throughout the book, Quentin will try to fight this recession in values, but in vain. Quentin’s father’s beliefs about time are somewhat contradictory and helpful to Quentin; he will try to understand and fight against time throughout the whole story.

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The stream of consciousness point of view captures Quentin’s state of mind while relating his feelings. Quentin’s, the narrator, obsession about time helps him realize that one “can be oblivious to the sound for a long while, then in a second of ticking it can create in the mind unbroken the long diminishing parade of time [they] didn’t hear”, and always make them “wonder what time it was”. The lack of punctuation and correct syntax in these sentences prove that these are the narrator’s thoughts and feelings. He’s become too preoccupied with time that he always need to know what time it is. Quentin always refer to his father by saying, “Father said that”, or “Excrement Father said like sweating”, to show his attachment to his father. He refers to his father who taught him everything about his moral values. He strongly believe that his father is the right path to follow. By using stream of consciousness, Faulkner allows us to understand Quentin’s troubled mind and thought process.

Faulkner’s use of detail reinforces the sharpness of Quentin’s analytical brain. After recalling his father’s thoughts, Quentin concludes that time is a battle that reveals only “folly” and “despair”. In the novel’s entirety, the only character that seem to have logical thinking is none other than Quentin who is able to make conclusions about time unlike other characters. His downfall comes from his inaction, which lead him to paranoia and death. Quentin’s reference to “Jesus” and “Saint Francis” shows his attachment to religion which he learned from his father. He knows that spirituality is an important value but he is primarily focused on dealing with his time-related issues. Time and time again he references his father who has taught him everything he knows, although he doesn’t always fully agree with him. Quentin’s use of detail simply highlight his superior and more careful thinking compared to his brothers.

The organization of the passage moves from obsessed, to confused, and finally to relaxed to show Quentin’s confused state of mind. In the beginning, Quentin wakes up and recalls advices he learned from his father and he mentions about his watch and addiction to time. This part sets the stage for the reader to know that Quentin’s main fight is against time itself. The middle of the passage talks about Quentin’s environment and his roommate. Quentin moves away from talking about time and starts describing his environment, showing his keen observational skills. This passage provides a form or relief which helps the reader further empathize with Quentin. In the last passage, he talks goes back to talking about time again, but this time, in a more relaxed way, without being too serious. The passage prepares us because Quentin tells us to “go on and wonder”. This passage opens the way, and acts as kind of the starting point of his story. Faulkner’s organization helps us dive further into Quentin’s character by providing insights about his main conflict.

Faulkner’s use of stream of consciousness, and detail allows us to further investigate and understand Quentin. Stream of consciousness provides us with Quentin’s feelings. His detail and diction highlights Quentin’s mindset, while allowing us to understand his character.

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