Although Caddy seems to be present everywhere in The Sound and The Fury, and often occupies the thoughts and feelings of each of her three brothers, she represents what is missing from each of their lives, and from the novel itself. She represents the love and nurture that Benjy misses when she leaves, the classic Old South that Quentin has lost, and also the wealth and status Jason cannot seem to obtain because Caddy has diminished his opportunities. The novel begins with the youngest of the Compson family as the narrator, Benjy.
Benjy has a challenged mind, which makes the section nothing but a stream-of-conscious thoughts and memories, revealing no time; the reader must stumble through the reading to decipher which memories happen at what time. Benjy’s fascination with Caddy begins at a young age; the reader can see this when he sees that almost every flashback involves Caddy and Benjy together. The earliest of which is the most well-known and most critiqued of the novel. It is the scene from Damuddy’s funeral, where the three Compson brothers all look up at Caddy in a tree and see her muddied drawers.This symbolizes her loss of innocence and her bad influence upon the family’s image. Most of Benjy’s memories involve Caddy, which even more convinces the reader that she has a profound affect on his life. Key memories regarding Caddy include her first time using perfume, her loss virginity, and her wedding.
Caddy’s wedding emphasizes the main theme of loss that runs throughout The Sound and The Fury. Following the wedding, Benjy is without Caddy’s presence, which is his most valued grip on his delicate child-like world, where nothing should change and everything should remain the same.His recollections of Caddy’s wedding are interspersed with his recollections of Damuddy’s death, which is when Caddy’s climbing upon tree to spy upon Damuddy’s viewing generates Benjy’s later on memory of standing on a small box to spy on Caddy’s wedding. “Then I saw Caddy, with flowers in her hair, and a long veil like shining wind. Caddy Caddy .
. . and Cad put her arms around me, and her shining veil, and I couldn’t smell trees anymore and I began to cry” (Faulkner 58-59).This, combined with Benjy’s memory of standing on the box to view Caddy’s wedding shows the reader Faulkner’s emphasis on Caddy’s leaving Benjy, rather than her joining with Herbert Head. Quentin’s section shows the thoughts and actions on the day he commits suicide.
Through Quentin, Faulkner illustrates the importance of time. He is essentially trapped in the elegant time of Old South. He is obsessed with the family and the elegance of the family that he has lost. He is haunted by the memories of Caddy and how she ruined the family’s good names and ended the ideals of the time of the Old South.He believes that Caddy’s conduct has left a permanent stain on his family’s proud heritage, defiling it for all time and essentially corrupting all thoughts Quentin had of continuing the Compson’s proud past. Quentin has a sense of order in his life.
This order is based on the highly ethical and moral standards of the Old South society; a society where men are meant to be gentlemen and women are meant to be ladies. Quentin believes in the ideals and ideas espoused under this traditional society.