Book Review: The Sound and the Fury

This is my 2020 “Southern Month,” and I would be remiss if I didn’t review anything from one of the South’s greatest writers. William Faulkner is renowned for his dark, Southern stream of consciousness, and I’m willing to brave that combo right here, right now.

The Book

51uoptbnrglThe Sound and the Fury
Author: William Faulkner
Amazon Link

I read A Rose for Emily in high school and just simply loved it. Faulkner’s Southern Gothic short story has been a major inspiration for me as a writer, and I strive to have such a deep sense of culture, history, and character in any of my works. Because of this, I decided to try something of Faulkner’s that was somewhat more difficult.

Fair warning, though: This book contained the n-word. A lot. Like a LOT a lot. It made me uncomfortable because I’m a damn millennial, but I will say that the whites who used it the most weren’t supposed to be well-liked.

Review ***Contains Spoilers***

I was rather confused by this book and have no idea if there was an actual plot. That’s part of why I can’t do a non-spoilers review: I can’t figure out what parts I shouldn’t talk about. I can guarantee I won’t read it again, but please stick around for the rest of the review because I think this will be more complex than “I didn’t like it.”

Even though I couldn’t really put together a clear plot beyond “everything falls to crap for these people,” there were a few painfully Southern themes here. One was honor; by attempting to uphold the extremely strict Southern honor, many of the main characters hurt themselves. Caroline, the mother in the book, feels a dishonorable lady for marrying below her station and having a child with a severe learning disability, which leads her to hypochondria and depression. Quentin and Jason feel dishonored by their sister Caddy’s promiscuity, leading Quentin to suicide and Jason to extreme hardness toward Caddy’s daughter, also named Quentin. The Compsons repeatedly try to abuse the people of color in the book in order to feel greater than they really are, and it’s clear that part of their downfall is in their cruelty.

The presence of Southern honor was especially important for me as I imagined the book as allegorical for the Antebellum South, the Confederacy, and the Reconstruction South. The Antebellum – when all the kids were young – was relatively peaceful but filled with tension about to snap. The Confederacy – when everyone was dealing with Caddy’s fling and unintended pregnancy – was hard, filled with death, and brought about ruin. The Reconstruction – the part wherein Jason dealt with young Quentin’s thievery and the people of color become more prominent in the story – was filled with anger, strife, and loss of faith. As an allegory for the South, I thought the story was great.

Still, the stream of consciousness was hard, and section 2 was nearly impossible to sift through.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

Next week:

Stay tuned for a special surprise in a 5-Monday month! 🙂

10 thoughts on “Book Review: The Sound and the Fury

  1. Almost Iowa says:

    The western world has shifted from an “honor” society to one of “justice”. A lot of places have not. While we take pride in our quest for social justice, as we rightfully should, we have to keep in mind what a luxury that is. Honor societies thrive where there is little stability, little justice, little more than a few people you can count on. It is not an irony that in the midst of a social justice society, inner-city gangs are driven by a crude sense of honor – as in, you cannot bear to be dishonored.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Oh! Glad I could help. Sometimes I get afraid of reviewing books I really dislike, but then I realize I might as well because why not?

      And if it’s about hardcore racism (like I warned about with this book)? Definitely needs a forewarning because you don’t want to lead someone into reading a book that will hurt them without giving that heads up. I’m not entirely sure where I stand on trigger warnings for books, but I think as a reviewer it’s a responsible thing to do.

  2. Sophia Ismaa says:

    Brilliant review. I’m loving the focus on allegories, I don’t think there’s quite enough of that in reviews (I would also do it, but I’m happy to let everything I learned in English lit to go to waste). The majority of these characters sound like… well, I’ll leave that to the imagination. I’ve been wondering whether or not to read a Faulkner book one day, but I’m not the biggest fan of streams of consciousness, though I think Virginia Woolf could change that for me, let’s hope!

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