Benjy’s Sense of Time in The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury written by the famous American writer William Faulkner is a novel which has its special narrative style and cannot be compared with any other well-known novel. The characters, the themes and the structure of the novel are inseparable. William Faulkner develops the theme of time in all four chapters. It is interesting to note that different characters in the novel manage time in different ways.

My goal in this essay is to discuss how William Faulkner represents Benjy’s sense of time in his novel.

Benjamin Compson is one of the main characters in the novel The Sound and the Fury. He is the youngest of all the brothers in Compsons family. At first he has got his name after his uncle Maury but then his parents decided to change his name to Benjamin. Benjy’s monologue in the first chapter of the novel gives a lot of information concerning his life perception. This young man is 33. He sees different people, things and events in the world in the context of sights and sounds. Benjy’s age is the same of Jesus when he was crucified. The way Benjy tells about different events in his life is rather strange, without any embellishment: ”Then they all stopped and it was dark and when I stopped to start again I could hear Mother, and feet walking fast away, and I could smell it”. (Faulkner 33)

The main peculiarity of his behavior is that he tries “to smell” everything around him. Benjy has no any concept of time because he has no idea how to distinguish things in past and in present. However, he can easily draw connections between the events occurred in the past and the events occurred in the present while others cannot do it. That is why he can easily avoid obsessional ideas of the other members of his family concerning their ruined great and powerful name.

Benjy can be compared to a machine as his mind “reproduces his physical senses”. (Bowling 554)

This young man does not explain what has happened to him. He reproduces the events without any apprehension. Benjy’s behavior can be compared with the behavior of an idiot who has no chronology in everything he says. He has three major things in his life: fire, the flowers and his sister Caddy. Benjy has no sense of time and the author tries to show the readers that the young man is “the shame of the Compsons family”. (Bowling 559)

In conclusion, it is necessary to say that William Faulkner shows not only the tragic fall of a family but also he shows weak family relations. Benjy Compson is a person whose memories of the past, present and future are interwoven. He lives in the past but the most important things for him take place in the present. Benjy seems to be alone in this world. Nobody takes care of him. He has no sense of time and he lives in his internal world which is full of memories based on different sounds and scents.

Works Cited
Bowling, L. Faulkner: Technique of The Sound and the Fury. Kenyon Review. 1998. Print.
Faulkner, W. The Sound and the Fury. New York: Random House. 1992. Print.

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