Benjy, the novel’s first narrator, is emotionally ill and therefore unable to estimate time. Time is an illusion to him. He moves back and forth in his thoughts, seeking to link the present and the future, and thereby losing track of the importance of time (Faulkner 12). The author draws a significant link between the future and the current, and in doing so, he sees the chronology of events as more important to him than time itself.
Benjy is an absurd character in and of himself; he cannot speak and Faulkner wants us to understand him. How does the author want us to communicate with a mentally challenged character? Entering Benjy’s universe is a horror in and of itself. He lives in the past and reveals his childhood that encompasses different emotions and brings to us his sad adulthood.
Faulkner plays very well with time shifts in this novel (Faulkner 17). To Benjy time is an irrelevant experience as he shifts his thoughts back and forth. Things that are important to him are always present, the flowers, trees, and Candy are all present to him. It takes Candy for him to say what he likes and what he doesn’t like. This in itself has some aspects of time. The only time frame he knows is the present and what is happening in his memories are just memories of the time.
The next section introduces to us Quentin Compton’s who is the eldest of the children. He is the brightest light 0f hope to the family, and they even sell a land for him to go and study at Harvard. Unfortunately, he stopped living in the present and gets disillusioned. Time is getting irrelevant to him and uses this to focus his past instead of his present (Vickery 231). Faulkner tells us in this that the past is never last and thus the existence of the past is the mystic in its own. From the first sentence of the section, Quentin is obsessed with time and everything that is related to watching like the chime, hour and time are all over the pages. When he wakes up, the first thing he does is to switch off the alarm of his watch which reminds him of the existence of human beings, and this gradually leads him to his death.
Jean-Paul Sartre in his analysis sees his suicide as a part of exploding time rather that escaping time in its sense. He further states that Quent arranges his ideas in the past and thus does not time the moment he commits suicides. He gets neurotic and starts worrying about how the girls of his time are being treated. He thinks of Candy who is his only close female ally. He gets to know about feminism and sexuality through her and manages to see every girl as somebody else sister.
Faulkner envisions that it is a misfortune for a man to be confined by time and this brought by Quentin. He refuses to be confined to the present and turns psychotic. He is observed with time, and the families lost glory especially of the loose of virginity by his sister. His grandfather’s watch is the sign of the family lost glory (Vickery 229). The present exists as a fragmentation in Faulkner man. Nothing happens in the present that takes us into the future thus this brings us the aspect of time. Quentin tries to change the course of history with everything he could do. He tries to defend his sister by stating he committed adultery with her but this is an exercise in futurity. Time to him is like the chronology of events that can be reversed. He tries to save the face of his sister, but this action remains futile. His aspect to living in the past and the future is the straw that broke his back. He finally realizes that time is not all about events that occur but an occurrence that cannot is reversed, just like living in two places at the same time.
Satre highlights that the Faulkner man is living in the past and he never gets to live in the future. This aspect is sufficiently substantiated by the last of the Compson character that is Jason. Benjy is the mentally disturbed person and therefore time to him is an aspect that is meaningless (Vickery 228). Quintin lives an afraid person of his future, the future to him is a horror that cannot is lived and thus is afraid to walk into his future. Jason is only of the character that lives out of his free will into the future. In presenting his part, Jason is doing so with a stream of consciousness, he develops his story in a straight forward manner and deals with his presentation in a categorical manner. He lives in his free will in time that is present, and his survival mechanism is by playing the victim and bully at the same time. He tries to master his time and live fully taking advantage of the people around him and trying to master his destiny.
The last of the section brings to us what Falkner has failed to show to us in the previous texts; this is the ability to live in the present. Disney tries to live by her circumstance and thus try to create order out of utter disorder (Faulkner 14). This she tries to do by living in the present unlike other characters in the novel and keeping Compton family in decency, unlike the other characters that live in the past. She is only who lives in the present, and as a worker in the family, she fights to uphold the family.
Falkner chooses this absurdity to explain about time in the most interesting way. His metaphysical understanding of time that is a reflection of the past to look into the present is the most creative aspect of his arts. He envisions that we would live to our old age and that we need to get a good past to enjoy our future. I completely disagree with Jean-Paul Sartre analysis that a barred future is a barred future, all this can be changed.
Faulkner, William. The Sound and The Fury. United Kingdom: Vintage Classics. Print. (10-18)
Vickery, Olga W. “Time in Faulkner: The sound and the Fury, Jean-Paul Satre” William Faulkner: three decades of criticism. Vol. 109. Michigan State University Press, 1960, (227-232).