To be a Compson

Although it is brimming with cynicism, greed, self-loathing, racist and sexist ideas, and utter cruelty, Jason’s narration is particularly valuable to this novel.  For the first time, Faulkner grants us a vision of the present, with only minor interruptions of remembrance.

Throughout Jason’s narrative, several facets of the Compson tale are illuminated.  Early on, Jason reveals that Caddy was indeed divorced from Herbert upon finding out she was pregnant,  thus negating Jason’s potential job.  As a result of this, Caddy’s child, Miss Quentin, is able to return to the Compson home, but Caddy is banished and all together shunned by the family, negating her existence.  This lasts for many years, until the death of Mr. Compson, which Caddy reads of in the newspaper and subsequently makes an appearance at the funeral.

Faulkner, through Jason, also reveals the disdain that Mrs. Compson and Jason feel for Mr. Compson, the circumstances of his death, and the Compson name in general.  Mr. Compson, though a rampant alcoholic, knew enough to respect the members of his family and kept peaceful relations amongst them for as long as he could.  Upon his death, the house is left to Jason who feels that his father was weak and that his lifestyle was deplorable.  Because of this, Jason eliminates every last bit of compassion from the home, choosing instead to act bitterly and chastise everyone but his mother.  Several times throughout this section Jason and Mrs. Compson express gratitude that they are not wholly Compson, making references to the shame and misfortune associated with their surname.

Though we have been made aware of Benji’s castration and Quentin’s suicide prior to reading this section, Jason validates both of these occurrences in his writing.  Also, Jason clarifies the circumstances of Miss Quentin’s birth, stating that Caddy is unaware of who the father truly is.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email