Interpreting Benji

About halfway through April Seventh, 1928, Benji recalls seeing Caddy “with flowers in her hair, and a long veil like shining wind”.  Benji, along with T.P. who is Benji’s caretaker at the time of his adolescence, remain in the cellar during the ceremony for fear that Benji will cause a disturbance.  Unaware that their stolen “sassprilluh” was actually alcohol, T.P. and Benji wind up very drunk and behave wildly.  With T.P. “thrashing about and laughing”, Benji is unable to control his movements as he falls several times and ultimately hits his head.  Following Benji’s injury he reports that his throat repeatedly “made a sound” that he could not control.  In his drunken state, Benji has the hiccups and because he cannot comprehend this, he believes that he may be crying.  After all of this commotion, Caddy appears and, in an attempt to calm Benji, embraces him.  “Caddy put her arms around me, and her shining veil, and I couldn’t smell the trees anymore, and I began to cry”.  Caddy has put on perfume and he can sense that there is something different about her.  The fact that he can no longer “smell the trees” indicates that their relationship has changed.  Benji no longer feels the comfort and protection Caddy once offered to him because she is growing older and expressing herself as a woman.  Benji does not take well to this change, and cannot bring himself to a calm state until Caddy washes the perfume off of her skin and once again gives off the scent he finds so comforting.

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