The Decline of the Family in The Sound and the Fury

This novel introduces us to the Compson family and deals with a series of tragic events that led up to its decline and loss of social status and reputation. Benjamin’s development disorder, Caddy’s promiscuity, Quentin’s suicide, Jason’s tough character and resentment – all these events caused the family’s unity and respectability to crush like a sand castle.

The first “piece of puzzle” was Benjamin’s developmental disorder. Benjamin is the eldest son of Caroline and Jason Compson (he is 33 years old in the novel).

At the age of three, he was diagnosed with a severe retardation which inhibited his proper mental development. This led Caroline and her husband to a deep depression. She became absent, alienated and stopped caring for pretty much everything. For her, Benjamin was a punishment, a curse for the family. The father, Jason, found solace in alcohol and started drinking heavily. Neither of them had ever managed to recover from this shock. This resulted in the two of them neglecting both Benjamin and their other children, Candace(Caddy), Quentin and Jason.

Benjamin’s development disorder was the beginning of the end.

Caddy’s promiscuity was another tragedy and shame for the Compson family. She changed sexual partners very often, and her liberal behavior tainted the image of a decent and honorable family. The situation culminated when Caddy got pregnant out of wedlock. The worst of all was that she did not even know who the father was, so her parents decided to marry her to a bank owner Herbert, in order to cover it up.

Get quality help now

Proficient in: The Sound And The Fury

4.7 (348)

“ Amazing as always, gave her a week to finish a big assignment and came through way ahead of time. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

It seemed that the shame would be soon forgotten. However, when Herbert found out that Caddy had already been caring a child of another man when they married, he divorced her and threw her out of the house – another shameful result of Caddy’s promiscuity, because divorce was a shame back then, especially when the reason is something like this. This series of events, initiated by Caddy’s promiscuity, raised the tensions among the family members even more, and it was another step downwards for the Compsons’ reputation.

What comes next is Quentin’s suicide. Quentin had his moral standards very high. He also loved Caddy very much, so when she turned out promiscuous, it broke his heart. The fact that his sister, whom he loves so much, has no sense of morality, was devastating for him. He also did not want her to get married. He even thought about killing Herbert. Quentin tried to persuade her to give up on that marriage but she told him that she had to marry somebody. He was so desperate about preventing this marriage, that he even told his father that Caddy and he had committed incest, and that the child was his. Quentin hoped that this would make his father break Caddy’s engagement and let Caddy and him live together with the baby. However, his father did not believe him, so his last hope for prevention of Caddy’s marriage died. He failed to protect her from the consequences of her own wrong doings. The emotional storm of love, disappointment and despair took over him and, unable to handle it and move on, he committed suicide by drowning in a river. This was another tragedy that hit this family like a hurricane and tore it apart.

Jason’s tough character and huge resentment towards his mother and Caddy makes this situation even more difficult. When Caddy married Herbert, he gave Jason a job in his bank. However, when Herbert discovered the truth about Caddy’s pregnancy, not only did he throw Caddy out of the house, but he also threw Jason out of the job he had previously given him. Jason was never able to forgive this to Caddy and he took revenge on her. He separated her from her daughter – he told her he would take care of her daughter Quentin only if she leaves the town forever, so she left and never saw her daughter again. Jason’s anger towards his mother is caused by the fact that Caroline had always loved Quentin more than her other children. For this reason, Jason is very rude to her, and has no concern for her feelings. He puts no effort to make the atmosphere in the house more pleasant, and his behavior makes his mother even more depressed.

All these events slowly destroyed a family which once was respectable and appreciated. One event led to another, one tragedy triggered the next, and in the end none of them could recover from everything that had happened, there was no turning back. The resentment of the family members toward each other was too big for them to even try to fix things up. The fact is that all of them hurt each other with their actions, and after everything that had happened, there was not even a minimum chance for things to be like they used to be. The damage had already been done.

Cite this page

The Decline of the Family in The Sound and the Fury. (2021, Dec 25). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7