A Jungian Analysis of The Sound and the Fury: Faulkner and the Four FunctionsContinue to main content
Submitted by Edna Brown, St. Louis, Missouri.
In a 1956 interview for the Paris Review , when asked about whether he’d read the works of Sigmund Freud, William Faulkner responded, “Everybody talked about Freud when I lived in New Orleans, but I have never read him. Neither did Shakespeare. I doubt if Melville did either, and I’m sure Moby Dick didn’t” (qtd. in Stein 20). Although Faulkner may have taken the question lightly, it remains one of great import to the critic who seeks to establish a conscious effort on Faulkner’s part to explicate the veracity of psychoanalytic theory through his fiction. Carvel Collins was among the first to suggest such a conscious connection between Faulkner and Freud in his 1952 essay “The Interior Monologues of The Sound and the Fury ,” in which Collins describes how “Faulkner built his novel around Freud’s tri-partite structure of the personality; in this structure, Benjy is roughly equivalent to the id, Quentin to the ego, and Jason the superego” (Polk 15).
Psychoanalytic readings of Faulkner have flourished in the decades since Collins’s publication. For example, John T. Irwin’s 1975 work Doubling and Incest/Repetition and Revenge: A Speculative Reading of Faulkner centers “around the Oedipus complex and its relation to the problem of incest, which figures so prominently in Faulkner’s work” (Bockting 304). Kartiganer and Abadie published Faulkner and Psychology in 1994, a collection of Freudian, Lacanian, and feminist essays presented at the 1991 Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference. Today, one can scarcely browse through a special Faulkner issue of Mississippi Quarterly without finding at least one or two articles with a psychoanalytic bent. Yet, despite this strong psychoanalytic body of criticism, very little of it takes a Jungian perspective. Terrel Tebbets seems to be the leading Jungian authority on Faulkner. His 1989 publication of “Shadows of Jung: A Psychological Approach to Light in August ” helps to illuminate Jungian concepts of anima, animus, shadow, and individuation at work within the novel. Likewise, in “Giving Jung a Crack at the Compsons,” Tebbets makes recommendations as to how teachers might guide students through a Jungian reading of The Sound and the Fury . Although Tebbets touches on issues of shadow and anima/animus, his reading seems to focus on the “failed individeuation” of the Compson siblings and how the Compson parents contribute to that failure.
My reading of The Sound and the Fury will focus, as Tebbet’s does, on failed individuation, but rather than viewing each of the Compson siblings as a separate self-failed in individuating, I will demonstrate how each represents a different aspect of a greater whole the artist’s self, and then because the work is visionary, by extension, the collective Self of human kind. First, I will establish Faulkner’s work as visionary in the Jungian sense through discussing the novel’s origins and Jung’s concept of archetypal imagery. Further, I will outline Jung’s concept of the Mandela and the four psychological functions to demonstrate how the each of the Compsons corresponds with one or another of these functions. Finally, I will illuminate how Faulkner’s work, read from a Jungian perspective, rather than being misogynistic, laments the absence of the feminine and speaks to the value of the feminine within the collective human soul.
This paper began with the question of Freud’s influence on Faulkner, and now it turns towards a Jungian reading of Faulkner’s work. However, it seems imperative to first explain that a major reason for Jung’s split from Freud had to do with their differing views on the human imagination. While Freud looked at the literary product to reveal the personal psychology of the artist or as a symptom of that psychology, Jung looked to art to reveal truths about the collective human soul or psyche (Jacoby 66-67). Jung classified works of literature into two distinct groups. The first, Jung referred to as psychological and described them as “works, prose as well as poetry, that spring wholly from the author’s intention to produce a particular result...He exercises the keenest judgment and chooses his words with complete freedom” (Jung qtd. in Jacoby 69, italics mine). The second type of literary work is not the product of intention. Instead, it arrives
as it were, fully arrayed into the world, as Pallas Athene sprang from the head of Zeus. These works positively force themselves upon the author; his hand is seized, his pen writes things that his mind contemplates with amazement. The work brings with it its own form; anything the wants to add is rejected, and what he himself would like to reject is thrust back at him. While his conscious mind stands amazed and empty before this phenomenon, he is overwhelmed by a flood of thoughts and images which he never intended to create and which his own will could never have brought into being...He can only obey the apparently alien impulse within him and follow where it leads, sensing that his work is greater than himself, and wields a power which is not his and which he cannot command... (Jung qtd. in Jacoby 70).
According to Jungian thought, art that is produced in such a fashion is considered of the visionary type, and it was this type of art that Jung was most concerned with because he believed it sprang from and offered “profound insights into the secret workings of a man’s collective psychological life” (Jacoby 71).
Faulkner’s description of how The Sound and the Fury came into being and his discussion of the almost painful process of writing the book allow the reader to see how the work qualifies as visionary. When asked about the source from which the novel sprang, Faulkner replied,
It began with a mental picture. I didn’t realize at the time it was symbolical. The picture was of the muddy seat of a little girl’s drawers in a pear-tree, where she could see through a window where her grandmother’s funeral was taking place and report what was happening to her brothers on the ground below... (qtd. in Stein 13).
The story of the Compsons emerged, as Faulkner suggests most of his stories do, “with a single idea or memory or mental picture” (qtd. in Stein 16). Jung’s idea of archetypal imagery must be considered here. A major concept Jung set forth in his theory is the concept of archetypes or “universal patterns or motifs that come from the collective unconscious...[which] emerge in individuals through dreams and visions” (Sugg 422). Faulkner’s description of how his stories frequently have their genesis in an image suggests a non-rational sort of boiling up from the unconscious, rather than an intentional conscious plan on the part of the artist. This helps to establish at least some of Faulkner’s stories as visionary. But even more convincing evidence that The Sound and the Fury fits this classification rests in Faulkner’s description of writing the novel, for he describes it as the story “which caused [him] the most grief and anguish” (qtd. in Stein 13). Faulkner explains:
I had already begun to tell the story through the eyes of the idiot child, since I felt that it would be more effective as told by someone capable only of knowing what happened, but not why. I saw that I had not told the story that time. I tried to tell it again, the same story through the eyes of another brother. That was still not it. I told it for a third time through the eyes of the third brother. That was still not it. I tried to gather the pieces together and fill in the gaps by making myself the spokesman. It was still not complete, not until fifteen years after the book was published when I wrote as an appendix to another book the final effort to get the story told and off my mind, so that I myself could have some peace from it...I couldn’t leave it alone, and I never could tell it right... (qtd. in Stein 14).
Clearly, Faulkner conveys a sense of not being in control of the story, a sense of attempting to obey “the apparently alien impulse within him and follow where it leads” as Jung suggests visionary artist do (Jung qtd. in Jacoby 70). Classifying The Sound and the Fury as a visionary work in the Jungian sense is important to the present discussion because it allows the critic to view the work in terms of what message it offers, not merely about the psychic functioning of the individual artist, but also about the state of the collective human psyche.
Although Jungian analysis does not end with the study of the individual psyche, my analysis of the characters in The Sound and the Fury must begin there. Jung looked to symbols in art and literature to “find the ways in which the self has been described and expressed in various religions and occult systems, psychologies, arts and philosophies through history” (Rykman 72). He asserts that the process of individuation or the union of opposites within the self “has always been represented in symbols” (Jung Alchemical Studies 21). One universal symbol of the self that is important to Jungian theory is the Mandela or “magic circle” (Jung Alchemical Studies 22). Jung suggests when depicted in a drawn format, “Most mandelas take the form of a flower, cross, or wheel and show a distinct tendency towards a quaternary structure” (Jung Alchemical Studies 22). Thus the number four becomes significant to the Jungian critic. In fact, whereas Freudian theory poses a tri-partite structure of the personality (id, ego, and superego), Jungian theory proposes a quaternary personality structure, with its description of the four functions of the psyche: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. Jung describes the functions as follows: “Under sensation, I include all perceptions by means of the sense organs; by thinking, I mean the function of intellectual cognition and the forming of logical conclusions; feeling is a function of subjective valuation; intuition I take as perception by way of the unconscious, or perception of the unconscious contents” (Jung Psychological Types 518). Jung further subdivides these functions because they involve passively recording experience without evaluation or interpreting” (Rykman 76). The psyche can be depicted as a Mandela or circle, and these four functions form its “cardinal points”; the self resides at the mandela’s center (Frye 25).
As noted previously in this paper, Carvel Collins has described how the three Compson brothers might correspond with one or the other of Freud’s concepts of id, ego, and superego, but Collins’s analysis fails to account for the fourth Compson sibling Caddy. While it is true, Caddy does not have her own narrative section in The Sound and the Fury , she is, nevertheless, an important presence in the novel. With this in mind, I propose to demonstrate how each of the Compson children correspond in nature to a different psychic function as delineated by Jung: Quentin to thinking, Jason to feeling, Benjy to sensation, and Caddy to intuition; further, I will suggest that each of these characters/functions represents an aspect of the writer’s self. Together they form a magic circle with Faulkner’s self at center.
Quentin Compson is above all a thinking man. Throughout the novel he is associated with the intellect by his connection with school. As children when Quentin and Caddy are arguing about who knows more, Quentin seems to win the argument when he says, “I’m older than that [...] I go to school” (Faulkner 20). The watch he breaks on the day of his suicide and which receives an almost absurd amount of his attention in the beginning of his narrative is a gift given to him by his father on the day of his high-school graduation, and therefore symbolic of his intellectual achievement. Further, Quentin’s hyper-awareness of time and struggle against it contrasts sharply with Benjy, who as a result of his lack of intellectual capacity, “exists as much outside of space as outside of time” (Polk 141). As time is a concept of the human mind, Quentin’s obsession with it marks him as a man concerned with order, a thinking man. Quentin is the brother who went to Harvard, the Compson’s own Harvard boy. At Harvard, he is enrolled in a psychology class, a course which concerns itself with the study of the mind. Further, one of his college friends Shreve defends him as a man more driven b logic than lust when he says of Quentin, “Ah, let him alone [...] if he’s got better sense than to chase after dirty little sluts, whose business” (Faulkner 96).
Quentin’s narrative proves him a man prone to contemplation. For example, he frequently ruminates over previous conversations he’s had with his father. His narrative begins with one such memory of a rather philosophical discourse on the nature of time and the human attempt to “use it gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience” (Faulkner 93). Any conversation which includes Latin is likely to be a conversation among the learned, the educated, the intellectual. Quentin and his father speak together of the nature of being: “Father said a man is the sum of his misfortunes” (Faulkner 129) and “...Father was teaching us that all men are just accumulations dolls stuffed with sawdust swept up form the trash heaps where all previous dolls had been thrown away...” (Faulkner 218). Still another remembered conversation links Quentin to the life of the mind a discussion of books: “ Father said it used to be a gentleman was known by his books; nowadays he is known by the ones he has not returned ” (Faulkner 99). This memory comes as Quentin stacks his own books in the sitting-room in his dorm, the ones he “brought from home” and others.
A closer reading of Quentin’s narrative also reveals his tendency toward thought. For example, in the brief passage cited below, ten words related to thinking or knowing are noted:
When I first came East, I kept thinking You’ve got to remember to think of them as coloured people not niggers, and if it hadn’t happened that I wasn’t thrown with many of them, I’d have wasted a lot of time and trouble before I learned that the best way to take all people, black or white, is to take them for what they think they are, then leave them alone. That was when I realised that a nigger is not a person so much as a form of behaviour; assort of obverse reflection of the white people he lives among. But I thought at first that I ought to miss having a lot of them around me because I thought that Northerners thought I did, but I didn’t know that I really had missed Roskus and Dilsey... (Faulkner 106, italics mine).
Not only is Quentin thinking about race here, he is also thinking about how he should think, and he’s thinking about how he should feel. At one point as he looks out across the water at the bridge where he plans to commit suicide, he seems to be thinking, like Hamlet in his “To be or not to be” soliloquy, of the consequences of self-inflicted death, “ If it could just be hell beyond that ” (144). Then later, Quentin thinks about what he used to think of death: “It used to be I thought of death as a man something like Grandfather [...]” (Faulkner 281). He even goes as far as to describe how he thinks sensations into being when he imagines death: “Just by imagining the clump [of cedars] it seemed to me that I could hear whispers secret surges smell the beating of hot blood [...]” (Faulkner 219). Jung describes thinking types as those who are almost “exclusively oriented by what they think, and simply cannot adapt to a situation which they are unable to understand intellectually” ( Psychological Types 519). While Quentin reports other functions (e.g., he says he misses Roskus and Dilsey [feeling] and hears and smells death [sensation]), he accesses those functions primarily through thought. Richard Feldstein writes that Quentin characteristically “lives ‘in the mind’ of necessity as a way to avoid emotion” (9).
If Quentin is characterized by the function of thinking, Jason’s predominant function is feeling. “In the same way that thinking organizes the contents of consciousness under concepts, feeling arranges them according to their value” (Jung Psychological Types 435). In the Jungian sense, being a feeling type has much to do with making judgments about the value of objects, people, and experiences. Jason is constantly judging and de-valuing people. His narrative begins with this kind of judgment, “Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say” (Faulkner 223). Terrell Tebbets points to a number of other such judgments Jason makes about people, including “old woman...dam little slut...old half dead nigger...dam squirts...nigger wench...no-count nigger...dam eastern jews...dam redneck...and Great American Gelding” (Faulkner qtd. in Tebbets “Giving” 82). Barker and Kamps suggest that Jason “operates in the world of language as if he were the arbiter of every man’s virtue” (390), and such an interpretation is consistent with my classification of him as a feeling type.
Just as Quentin’s narrative is noted for numerous references to words having to do with thinking, a close reading of Jason’s narrative reveals almost constant references to judging and valuing. For example, when Jason goes to send a telegram to Caddy and Doc Wright mistakes his message for a code about buying stock, Jason advises, “That’s all right about that [...] You boys use your own judgment [...] You boys follow your own judgment” (Faulkner 239-240). Then about money, Jason suggests “After all, like I say money has no value” (Faulkner 241). The following conversation with a customer at the store whom Jason refers to as a “damn redneck” centers around the value of the quality of a “hame string”:
‘You’d better take that good one,’ I says.
‘If this one aint any good,’ he says, ‘why have you got I on sale?’
‘I didn’t say it wasn’t any good,’ I says, ‘I said it’s not as good as that other one.’
‘How do you know its not?’ he says. ‘You ever use airy one of them?’
‘Because they don’t ask thirty-five cents for it,’ I says. ‘That’s how I know it’s not as good’ (Faulkner 242).
It is difficult to find a passage in Jason’s narrative where he isn’t judging someone or something.
Jason is also associated with two extremes of feeling throughout the novel: sadness and rage. In what seems uncharacteristic of the adult Jason the reader comes to know, the child Jason is depicted crying at several points in Benjy’s narrative. For example, Benjy describes one such occasion, “They fought. Jason began to cry. ‘Caddy,’ Father said. Jason was crying [...] Jason lay on the floor crying” (Faulkner 78). A bit further in the same section, Jason’s response to having to sleep in the room “where we have measles” and not with his grandmother is to cry (Faulkner 89). By the time he reaches adulthood, however, his crying seems to have turned to anger. Thinking often turns to feeling for him. For example, as he’s thinking about either Quentin’s or his father’s burial, he explains, “I got to thinking about that and watching them throwing dirt onto it, slapping it on anyway like they were making mortar or something...and I began to feel sort of funny” (Faulkner 250). Then a bit later, “I got to thinking about when we were little and one thing and another and I got to feeling funny again, kind of mad or something, [...]” (Faulkner 252). In the closing scene of the novel, Jason comes to fully embody the Fury of the title when “With a backhanded blow he hurled Luster aside and caught the reins and sawed Queenie about and [...] slashed her across the hips. He cut her again and again [...] Then he struck Luster over the head [...] reached back and struck Ben” before finally threatening to kill Luster (Faulkner 400). The language Faulkner uses here to describe Jason’s actions toward everyone signifies his extreme rage.
While Quentin and Jason stand as polar opposites representing the two extremes of Jung’s rational functions, Benjy’s personality clearly represents the psychic function of sensations, a function Jung describes as an irrational “elementary phenomenon” that is “strongly developed in children and primitives” (Jung Psychological Types 462). Because of his stunted intellectual development, Benjy is child-like or primitive in his functioning. He sees, hears, and smells the world around him without making logical judgments about it. He does respond to the information he senses, but doesn’t seem capable of processing intellectually what happens around him. For example, in the beginning of the novel, Benjy reports what he sees and hears “between the curling flower spaces” (Faulkner 1), and he reacts in response to the golfer’s calling for a caddie because he can’t intellectually distinguish between the meaning of the words Caddy and caddie . Readers know he reacts to what he hears, not because Benjy reveals that he feels sad, but because Benjy reports Luster saying to him, “Listen at you now [....] Ain’t you something, thirty-three years old, going on that way” (Faulkner 1). Faulkner once described Benjy as incapable of thinking or feeling. “Benjy wasn’t rational enough even to be selfish. He was an animal. He recognized tenderness and love though he could not have name them [...]” (qtd. in Stein 14).
Like an animal, Benjy has a more keenly developed sense of smell than most human beings. For example, he identifies people by their smell, making frequent references to Caddy smelling like trees (Faulkner 5, 8, 50, 51, 54, 88). He reports liking the smell of Versh’s house (Faulkner 33) and later says, “Versh smelled like rain. He smelled like a dog too” (Faulkner 84). Benjy also reports that his father smells like rain (Faulkner 79), and he even seems capable of smelling death. On the night of one death in the family, as T.P. hurriedly dresses Benjy to get him out of the house, Benjy keeps repeating in his narrative, “I could smell it,” but never identifies what it is. When T.P. and Benjy go outside, the dog, Dan, is howling. T.P., referring to Dan’s howling, says, “He smell it” to Benjy, then “Is that the way you found out” (Faulkner 41). The reader is left to infer that both Benjy and the dog know that someone has died because they can smell it. Benjy’s strong reliance on his sense of smell aligns him with the primitive, which Jung associates with the function of sensation.
It is not the sense of smell alone that allows Benjy to represent Jung’s psychic function of sensation. Benjy is also associated with sensation in other ways throughout the novel. His constant moaning and bellowing connects to the “Sound” in the book’s title. He is the sound. This becomes clear in the novel’s end as Luster drives him the wrong way to the cemetery. Faulkner writes, “For an instant Ben sat in utter hiatus. Then he bellowed. Bellow on bellow his voice mounted with scarce interval for breath. There was more than astonishment in it, it was horror; shock; agony; eyeless; tongueless; just sound” (Faulkner 400). Further, Benjy finds comfort in visual and tactile stimulation. He likes to watch and listen to fire and look into mirrors. Fires are built or he is frequently led to them to stop his bellowing. One memory he has is of Caddy hushing him, telling him “ You can look at the fire and the mirror and the cushion, too ” (Faulkner 80). He is frequently given objects to hold to quite him Caddy’s old slipper, a flower. Dilsey identifies his need for tactile stimulation when she explains to his mother, “Give him a flower to hold [...] That what he wanting” (Faulkner 10). Her statement confirms Benjy’s primary reliance on the psychic function of sensation.
Like sensation, intuition is classified as an irrational function because it refers to knowledge that springs from feeling. It is a sense of knowing, not based on logic or derived from books. Caddy best represents this function in The Sound and the Fury . Her intuitive nature becomes evident in a scene from her childhood during an argument with Quentin. The two are arguing, not over how their mother is going to react to Caddy’s wet dress, but over how each knows how she will react. Versh says Caddy’s mother will whip her for getting wet. Caddy doesn’t believe she will. When Quentin asks Caddy how she knows what her mother will do, Caddy responds, “That’s all right how I know [...] I’m seven years old [...] I guess I know” (Faulkner 20). Caddy has no logical basis for her knowledge. She speaks as if it is just in her being to know. She has an intuitive knowing. On the other hand, when Quentin is asked how he knows how his mother will react, he cites logical evidence, “She said she was [going to whip Caddy if she got dirty]” (Faulkner 20). Later in life with Jason, Caddy’s intuitive nature comes through as well. She comes to town in hopes of seeing her daughter Quentin, but during her meeting with Jason, she asks to see bank statements. Caddy intuits that something isn’t right with the way Jason is handling the money she sends for Quentin, and her intuition is correct.
Caddy exhibits an intuitive attitude toward knowing in her interactions with each of her siblings, but most distinctively in her interactions with Benjy. For example, in the scene where Benjy remembers Caddy coming home from school and Versh taking Benjy out to meet her, Caddy attempts to intuitively determine what Benjy is trying to tell her. She asks a few times, “What is it. What are you trying to tell Caddy” (Faulkner 6). Though Benjy can’t talk, Caddy determines that Benjy must think it is Christmas. She says, “Did you think it would be Christmas when I came home from school. Is that what you thought” (Faulkner 6). She uses intuition to understand. Benjy again when he comes into her room crying, and she first tries to comfort him with the smell of perfume. When the perfume doesn’t work, Benjy explains how “She put the bottle down and came and put her arms around me. ‘So that was it. And you were trying to tell Caddy and you couldn’t tell her. You wanted to, but you couldn’t, could you. Of course Caddy wont. Of course Caddy wont’” (Faulkner 51). Apparently, Caddy understands what is wrong with Benjy here through intuition. Benjy doesn’t tell her. She just knows he seems to be afraid of her leaving.
Just as thinking and feeling exist as polar opposites on the same rational plane in the psychic functioning of an individual, sensation and intuition exist as polarities on the irrational plane, but their relationship is less oppositional and more compensatory than that of thinking and feeling. Understanding how Caddy represents the intuitive function requires reviewing Jung’s position on the nature of the relationship between sensation and intuition. Jung writes, “Like sensation, intuition is a characteristic of infantile and primitive psychology. It counterbalances the powerful sense impressions of the child and the primitive by mediating perceptions of mythological images” ( Psychological Types 454). Within the novel, Caddy functions as a counterbalance and mediator in her relationship with Benjy. It is Caddy to whom Benjy turns for comfort, Caddy who can quite Benjy’s disruptive sounds. For example, in the beginning of Benjy’s narrative, he is taken outside by Versh to meet Caddy. Though Versh tries to help him counterbalance the cold (a sense impression), it is Caddy who successfully performs this function. She rubs Benjy’s hands, takes him inside, and directs Versh to take him into the fire. In the example cited above, when Benjy enters Caddy’s room crying, and she tries to still him by giving him perfume to smell, she acts as a mediator and tries to calm and bring him into balance. Throughout the novel, Benjy pines for Caddy, at times being both comforted by her slipper, and sometimes tormented by the sound of her name spoken. Without her, he is always wanting, always bellowing, always somehow incomplete.
To even more fully comprehend how Caddy represents the intuitive function, we must move beyond the boundaries of the novel and back to the artist, back to the beginning of this paper to my discussion of the image which came to Faulkner, the image from which the story emerged: Caddy climbing a pear tree, her brothers looking up at her muddy drawers. Razenberg quotes Jung on the nature of the intuitive function in saying “She (intuition) offers the child the ability to perceive mythological images (the pre-phase of ideas) which are opposite to the sensational impressions of the child [...]” Further, Razenberg describes the intuitive function as the “image-creating (fantasy) function [...]” Caddy served Faulkner in just this manner; she arrived as an image, helping him to bring into consciousness the unconscious. She served as a mediator not just between Benjy and the world in the novel but as the medium through which Faulkner perceived mythological images. It seems important to note that Jung describes the intuition as “the matrix out of which thinking and feeling develop as rational functions” ( Psychological Types 454). Caddy’s character acts as such. While some feminists have argued that Caddy has no voice in the novel because she doesn’t have her own narrative section (See Porter for example), I would argue to the contrary that Quentin and Jason only have their voice because of the image of Caddy which emerged from Faulkner’s unconscious. It is her absence or the absence/rejection of what she represents (the feminine, the intuition) that leads each of her male siblings to despair.
As a feminist, I have at times, struggled with Faulkner’s overt treatment of women in various novels. Like the students Judith Bryant Wittenberg describes teaching, I too am “bothered by the extreme negativity of the portrait of Mrs. Compson and by the biological and racial marginalization of the surrogate mother Dilsey” in The Sound and the Fury (76). I am disturbed by Jason’s continual references to women as bitches and sluts. However, from a Jungian perspective, I can look at Faulkner’s representation of women, not as a Freudian would, as evidence of Faulkner’s own personal pathology. Instead, I can read his stories for the truth they offer up from the unconscious, not just about Faulkner himself, but about human kind in general. From a Jungian perspective, “The poet becomes an instrument destined to give expression and form to those yet unformed ideas that lie dormant in our soul” (Jacoby 66).
So then, what is the idea that Faulkner’s work brings to consciousness? I propose it is work that laments the loss of the feminine. Caddy is both present and absent in the novel. She doesn’t have her own voice, she is lost to Benjy, she is rejected by Jason, she is desired by Quentin, and he can’t understand or accept her. Faulkner himself can’t tell her story properly, so she is inaccessible to him, too. He acknowledges this when he speaks of never being able to leave the story alone and never quite being able to tell it right. This interpretation is consistent with Faulkner’s conscious analysis of Caddy’s character. In 1933, Faulkner wrote an introduction to The Sound and the Fury (four years after the novel’s publication) in which he reveals “uncharacteristically, what Caddy means to him personally. He created Caddy Compson out of his own sense of loss; he meant for her to fill a lack created by two female vacancies the absence of a sister and the loss of a daughter” in his own life (Cohen and Fowler 51). Intuition spoke to the author about this loss by offering up this image of a woman climbing a pear tree to seek knowledge. The woman is ascending, she is above her brothers, and ironically, they look both up at her and down upon her. The brothers’ views of relationships with the sister are brought to light here. Through Faulkner’s work, we see the feminine as an aspect of the self, misunderstood, rejected and desperately needed by other aspects of the self. Faulkner’s work helps readers feel and understand the tragedy which follows the loss of the feminine or the inability to integrate and balance all aspects of the psyche within the self.
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