Change is perhaps the most inevitable experience human beings can live through. By means of his novel The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner creates a microcosm of the Southern Aristocratic Society of post Civil War America by constructing the county of Yoknapatawpha. Faulkner represents archetypes of southern aristocratic figures and through them experiences change by means of the decay and corruption of the southern moral code these figures have once aggressively believed in.
In the first section, change is evident in different proportions through Benjy’s induction to alcohol and his alcoholic experience and through Caddy’s physical image change portrayed by means of her wearing a dress and how this leads to a lack of tree smell recognized by Benjy and that solemnly in these pages can prove to be important to Benjy.
Particularly on pages 40 and 41 of the first part of this novel, through the use of flashbacks, a clear naivetï¿½ motif and sensory diction, Faulkner demonstrates a slight corruption and change of Benjy and Caddy through Benjy’s narration.
Faulkner’s first literary technique choice when choosing to establish change in the characters of Benjy and Caddy is flashbacks. By utilizing this device, he allows himself to showcase different scenarios in which change is also occurring, in this case a negative change of decay and corruption, and hence strengthen the reader’s interpretation of the significance of this change. The use of this literary technique becomes most evident when Faulkner suddenly turns from ” and I couldn’t smell trees anymore and I began to cry”, a scene in which he is describing Benjy’s introduction to alcohol by TP when Benjy through crying demonstrates to the reader he is unhappy and/or unsatisfied with something.
From “and I began to cry”, Faulkner in italics skips to another moment in Benjy’s life, evident to the lack of connection to the former scene. In this new scene that begins with “Benjy, Caddy said, Benjy.” Caddy is the character experiencing change when she dresses herself differently and is reprimanded by her brothers. The evident change of scenes through flashbacks allows Faulkner to present various cases of the same problem and/or event and through this strengthen the reader’s interpretation. He could have chose to do this through different manners but with the use of flashbacks, he lacks the formality of commencing a new paragraph and having to include context and any other information since he just initiates his new idea as seen.
Faulkner, in this same passage, develops change through the motif of naivetï¿½ as he molds this change into a negative connotation. Using the innate ingenuity of humans, he shows how his characters in situations that differ in magnitude lose this condition. He begins expanding on this motif with Benjy and how he together with TP experiences a drinking episode. In this drinking episode, Benjy states that he begins making a sound and by solely stating “It made the sound”, “by making the sound” and “throat made a sound”, he proves himself unaware of the situation he is undergoing and hence nave to it.
To all who have some knowledge of drinking can easily deduct that Benjy has the hiccups from all the drinking he has been through but since he is inexperienced he shows himself oblivious. This shows a signification of Benjy from being non-alcoholic to alcoholic, a behavioral change. Caddy also experiences change as she chooses to dress up by wearing a dress and is reprimanded by Jason with the comment “You think you’re grown up, don’t you. You think you’re better than anybody else, don’t you. Prissy”. Jason’s comment tells the reader that Caddy wearing a dress is out of habit and unusual therefore a change in her life. Caddy’s change and Jason’s reaction shows the naivetï¿½ of Jason towards the natural tendency of life of developing
A very predominant technique in this section is the notable presence of diction directly related to the senses. Benjy’s connection to his senses is evident in this section as he hears sound, feels sound, smells trees and sees the effects of alcohol on T.P. Perhaps Faulkner’s greatest narration of change happens through Benjy who clearly cannot interpret his surroundings or happenings in his body like when “it starts making a sound” he cannot identify or comprehend.
Through hearing a sound and feeling it at the same time, both garnered through the senses he is able to notice change. As he sees Caddy and smells her noticing he “couldn’t smell trees anymore” change is once more perceptible and once more gained through his senses. It is through Benjy’s senses together with his inability to interpret them in this section that Faulkner implicitly develops a negative change in his characters.
Although Yoknapatawpha may only be an imaginary representation of a Southern reality, the universal theme of change is present. Faulkner in this section of the novel is able to stress change through many techniques, the most predominant being flashbacks, the motif of naivetï¿½ and his diction. Through two characters, Benjy and Caddy, he is able to show that the innate nature of characters suffers influence and inevitably change as does Benjy and Caddy in this passage. Change is truly the most inevitable experience humans beings face.