Lesson 1: Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury: Introduction

Published in 1929, The Sound and the Fury is often referred to as William Faulkner's first work of genius. It was only his fourth novel, yet it is widely considered to be one of the greatest contributions to American literature and one of Faulkner's most heartfelt literary creations. In the canon of great works, it is primarily recognized for its experimental form. Faulkner's style is characterized by frequent time shifts, narrator shifts, unconventional punctuation and sentence structure, as well as a stream-of-consciousness technique that reveals the inner thoughts of characters to the reader.

Guiding Questions

How does Faulkner use narrative structure, time, voice/point of view, and other devices such as symbolism throughout each chapter of "The Sound and the Fury?"

How does Faulkner characterize Benjy, Quentin, Jason, Dilsey (and Caddy), document the decline of the Southern Compson family, and portray the changing the American South?

Learning Objectives

Define Faulkner's place in American literary history.

Describe Faulkner's "South" in the context of the historical South and understand how the South was changing socially and economically in the early 20th century.