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"an indescribable sound" in william faulkner's _the sound and the fury_

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Title:
"an indescribable sound" in william faulkner's _the sound and the fury_
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English
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Ramsey, Lynn
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University of South Florida
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Literature   ( lcsh )
Hush
Silence
Musicality
Bells
"trying to say"
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- Masters -- USF   ( lcsh )
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non-fiction   ( marcgt )

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Abstract:
ABSTRACT: "An indescribable sound" in William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury Lynn Ramsey ABSTRACT The Sound and the Fury is a noisy book. Through the audible, the barely audible, and the silence, William Faulkner supports his narrative design with sound beyond dialog to inform and inflect the destabilizing narrative voices. This essay explores Faulkner's use of the sound and noise of the novel as another narrative voice. Faulkner's rich use of sound as a recurring motif, almost a persona or narrator itself, functions not merely to animate the action, the characters, and the title; it also speaks in the "hush" and the freighted "stiffly sibilant" whispers of those who dare not speak, or are "trying to say," while simultaneously running as a voiceless current beneath the disjunctive narrative. The range and quality of sound wavers throughout, from the musical to the "indescribable," as the past and present repeatedly segue forward and back to this soundtrack. Like the otherworldly racket of Macbeth, the noise of the novel plays beneath the surface, begging to be heard. Much scholarship has been devoted to exploring Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, yet the text continues to reveal layers of meaning and resonance to yet another generation. This study seeks to interrogate the nature, function, and musicality of the sound, noise, and silence of the text as adumbrated in the rhetoric of Reverend Shegog's Easter sermon, Luster's valiant attempts to play on the saw the "inaudible tune," the ubiquitous bells, and Dilsey's determination through it all to sing. This study hopes to enter into the conversation on Faulkner's enduring work by listening to what the text is "trying to say."
Thesis:
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2010.
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Includes bibliographical references.
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by Lynn Ramsey.
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Title from PDF of title page.
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usfldc doi - E14-SFE0003443
usfldc handle - e14.3443
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The Sound and the Fury by Lynn Ramsey A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of M aster of Arts Department of English College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D. Sara Munson Deats, Ph.D. Suzanne H. Stein, Ph.D. Date of Approval: April 16, 2010 Keywords: hush, silence, musical Copyright 2010, Lynn Ramsey

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Dedication

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Acknowledgements I am indebted to Dr. Phillip Sipiora for his insightful guidance and to Dr. Sara Munson Deats for her invaluable editing suggestions. I am also sincerely grateful to Dr. Suzanne Stein for her perceptive comments and unfailing encouragement.

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Table of Contents Abstract ii Chapter One: Introduction 1 1 3 Hearing and Listening 4 Chapter Two: 6 8 The Sound of Time 10 1 3 Chapter Three: Trying to Play: The Musicality of it All 1 4 1 5 Singing: The Sound of Enduring 1 7 The Peremptory Bells 1 8 The Birds 20 Chapter Four: Trying to Pray 2 2 The Easter Sermon: Recollection and Longing 2 2 Coming Home 2 9 Chapter Five: Conclusion 3 3 Afterword 3 5 Works Cited 3 7 Bibliography 3 8 i

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The Sound and the Fury Lynn Ramsey ABSTRACT The Sound and the Fury is a noisy book. Through the audible, the barely audible, and the silence, William Faulkner supports his narrative design with sound beyond dialog use of the sound an sound as a recurring motif, almost a persona or narrator itself, functions not merely to freight while simultaneously running as a voiceless current beneath the disjunctive narrative. The the past and present repeatedly segue forward and back to this soundtrack Like the otherworldly racket of Macbeth, the noise of the novel plays beneath the surface, begging to be heard. Th e Sound and the Fury yet the text continues to reveal layers of meaning and resonance to yet another generation. This study seeks to interrogate the nature, function, and musicality of the sound, noise, and silence of the text as adumbrated in the rhetori the ii

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s to ork by listening to what the text is iii

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1 Chapter One Introduction In the fourth section of William famous Easter sermon scene, the congregation fails to notice the entrance of the keynote speaker, Reverend S depiction, but this non description camouflages the trope that the author has done nothing but descri be sound throughout The Sound and the Fury The moment acts as a focal point in the novel, like a temporal rift in the text through which the Easter sermon passage springs Th sound in Faulkner is more than bellowing and bells which signal and symbolize It throws criticism, and with regard to The Sound and the Fury in particular, much attention has been given to narrative t heory Lacanian, psychoanalyt ical, biographical, cultural and literary critical approaches, to name some of the predominant lines of inquiry. The generosity of the text to the multiplicity of readings attests to the the greatest works of American fiction

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2 while t he availability of extra textual sources makes for an even richer and more challenging study. presenting yet other designs, rendering it fascinating and accessible to the initiate and the scholar alike The Sound and the Fury and I hope to explore in this essay the dichotomy between sound a nd expression which finds its nexus in the The soundtrack to The Sound and the Fury accompanies the four narratives variously to different effects. Sound and silence, with shades in between serve in turns to amplify and propel the operation of the four distinct narratives. On a traditionally symbolic level, the cumulative effect of the noise of the novel functions as the enunciation of the extended death rattle of the Compson family, while the bells, the squinch owl, and the of Macbeth creation groanin g in response to the cosmic hurtling of the Compson family to their inevitable doom 1 1 which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the cr eature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firs tfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope this is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for it? But if we hope for Romans 8:18 23.

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3 T rying to S maintains that despite his exploration, he has yet to discover o e of sound is not a positive movement (54), yet an examination of The Sound and the Fury demonstrates that the trope is far more subtle and textured than merely a malevolent accompaniment to the disorder of life and living. Melba Cuddy Keane explores the d evelopment of the use of sound as an expression of modernist subjectivity and reaction to the encroachment of technology, particularly the city, within the writings of Virginia Woolf. Her study is useful in attempting to define terminology which expresses the distinctive function of sound (382 83). Resisting the temptation to anthropomorp hize the persistent aurality of the text is which Faulkner employs in his fiction (89 90). Zender usefully associates yet another

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4 idiom for concretizing sound by identify Hearing and Listening The narrators in turn hear, listen, and intuit sound to varying degrees. The reader e malleable plane of sound. Quentin hears too much noise: his ear is constantly at the ground, alternately listening to turns into hearing. He no longer needs to liste n; he is like an exposed nerve, quivering to Dilsey Gibson and her family, the sound culminates in an exclamation of recognition, recollection, and release. The aural quality of the novel signaled in the title functions as more than an all usion to the cacophonous devolution of Macbeth, but also as a subtext elucidating the renders sound inseparable from spoken voice, and enhances the subjectivity of the narratives, as well as draws the reader in. Faulkner illustrates this dialogic operation of presence of his quarry, Jason sorts out the sounds he hears from the sounds he does not hear, and the sounds he expects to not hear. From out of the ambient cacophony, he must

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5 distinguish between the essential and the superfluous in order to track his prey, in contrast to Quentin, who hears everything and nothing.

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6 Chapter Two said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in Wittgenstein Tract at us S One of the themes of the novel finds expression in attempting to communicate, in The multivale narratives, inheres the indescribable with the inexpressible. The fo their turns at trying to describe the thing they cannot say, and dare not say, or try not to synesthetic relationship with his world, in which Faulkner c rafts him as a sort of metaphysical poet who views the world through the curling flower spaces. In the sensory equilibrium and comfort for Benjy. He orders his bright world through his senses. Even functions as another comforting aspect of his world. The only comforting Compson touch watches for Caddy, the one whose name dare not be spoken. The narrative repeats snatches of seemingly random, impressionistic dialog which the reader soon learns to

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7 does not say which creates the effect of su bjectivity, drawing the reader along to peer of being painfully aware and translating what the other characters c annot: the source of make sense of the text and the character. The palpable, powerful losses articulated individually by the Compson family members loom large over the st and response to the decay of equilibrium and order: moaning, bellowing, and roaring, absent Caddy, the only family member who loves him, the only family member who has behaved anything like family or a mother to him articulates his search without words. Benjy has no words, only s ounds, with which to express his longing; his animal like utterances reinforce the visceral nature of his memory of love, and his need to love and voiceless misery unde

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8 voices the basic longing of humankind. The name that cannot be uttered contributes to the powerlessness of voice to articulate the basic longings of all the Compson family. The decree ag Hush The Sou nd and the Fury and the stifling narratives of the novel together, and speaks to the attempt to contain the primeval cr y of a non His first words he furiously attempts to silence his voices, while simultaneously listening to the frenzied ticking of the ever present timepieces. regionalism, and aura lly, as an onomatopoeic representation of the spoken word. voiceless current, running beneath the surface; it is what the voice does as it reads. The ubiquitous hush while ostensibly an expression of annoyance, attempts to tamp down the

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9 growing angst of the Compson family, which threatens to billow out of control at any moment, and ultimately does. Not only does the constant presence of the hush attempt to stifle the full blown expression of decay, but it also works to facilitate the ability of the characters to hear and to listen. for all throughout the novel. They take turns hushing one another, but Benjy is the unified target whom all the characters try to hush; his utterances are a constant reminder of the pain of their disorientation stoically, in tacit acknowledgement of t he world as it is, not as it could be or might have been. This dichotomy between despair/stoicism and toleration/love finds s too painful to say is the reader. The peppered throughout the novel, intensifies the pathos of the disintegrating Compson family, as every character takes his or h er turn at hushing Benjy. At times, it is sibilantly Luster at times voices a youthful frustration expected from one who must care for Benjy constantly; Dilsey repeats when they are departing for church (180). Mrs. Compson expresses annoyance through

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10 character. It reinforces the problematic, distant relationship of the father to all the sons. es. Benjy is a physical representation of what they cannot say, and dare not say: they are drooling, bellowing human failures, futilely thrashing at unnamed terrors. The Sound of Time s of his life, pictured by the ever present timepieces and references to time. He endeavors to nds shut time is dying as it passes. Each moment is no more. Time dies. Born to die, he helps it along. Quentin repeats the mis urdam of human little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to Sonnet 60 as he makes toward his watery end: Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, So do our minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes before, In sequent toil all forwards do contend (1 4).

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11 to the sounds tha t will not hush, wanting to silence the voices, the ticking, the bells, and the detritus of his existence. The bells which resonate with hope on Easter Sunday mockingly reinforce the passage of cruel time for Quentin. Quentin attempts to hush the self, a nd finally does, seeking silence in order to know if he hears or listens; speaking of the watch in the second paragraph: It was propped against the collar box and I lay listening to it. Hearing it, while, then in a second of ticking it can create in the mind unbroken the long d the long and lonely light rays you might see Jesus walking, like. And the good Saint Francis that said Little Sister Death, that never had a sister (49). ip to time in sound, which mirrors the tension between the objective and his subjective world. Listening implies purposeful action, while hearing cannot be totally controlled. Quentin moves from intentionally listening to redefining it as hearing. He must sort through the ambient noise in order to find the sound which resonates with his subjective self. He cannot control the voices within, the sounds which mimetically mock him himself over to the transien ce of time. The structure of the paragraph progresses from

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12 sound is so acute th at he anticipates and feels the vibrations of sound in the air, forever The hour began to strike . . It was awhile before the last stroke ceased vibrating. It stayed in the air, more felt than heard, for a long time. Like all the bells that ever rang still ringing in the long dying light rays and Jesus and Saint Francis emptively react to t he external stimuli of human interaction, Quentin absorbs the sounds which engulf him, as he subjectively turns in upon himself, rather than direct the results outward. If Jason can be described as vigilant, Quentin practices an aurally voyeuristic postur e, as he ing Faulkner employs yet The persistent hearing/listening to the sibilant sound of footfalls reinforces the relentless n the

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13 ch u ch o ter W as no S o operate s as a sound, with the sound imagery that accompanies it. Faulkner unites the narratives with implications of silence in the persistent refrain, The pervasive, ironic phrase echoes relentlessly throughout the text. This movement is pa ot hear the parents. He repeatedly listens for the mother, but hears no sound. While Mrs. but hears nothing. Faulkner associates a touch of pathos with Jason, as if the habit he now has of listening/hearing was developed over long years of vai

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14 Chapter Three After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. Aldous Huxley I don't care much about music. What I like is sounds. Dizzie Gillespie I would say that musi c is the easiest means in which to express, but since words are my talent, I must try to express clumsily in words what the pure music would have done better. William Faulkner Trying to Play: The Musicality of it All Coindreau likened the structure of The Sound and the Fury an accompaniment to the actions of the novel. Des pite the unsettling narratives with their themes of pain and psychic loss, the reader hears and listens to the musicality of the text musical imagery. When Dilsey admon he reader begins to get a sense of the musicality of yet individual voices can be detected from amidst the whole. Quentin will do this; like a mother who can discern h

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15 by the sibilance of the whispers and the silence. As Faulkner contrasts the two familie novel. While Quentin, Jason, and which plagues their lives, Dilsey and her family produce and embrace sound. She sings in the kitchen, the nerve center of the house; near the end of the novel, after the Easter sermon, she sings the same t wo lines over and over to herself as she prepares the meal. It is all she knows yet it is still music. It is not much like her life but it is something, to make melody ; the song will never end, but she keeps on singing, nonetheless. Nothing is going to change, so she may as well sing. Her singing apparently soothes Benjy, as his narrative frequently mentions Dilsey in conjunction with singing, and she hushes him later w Sunday meeting (180). They do indeed hear the singing, as well as the musicality of Rev. Bleikasten and Coindreau ( Mela ncholy 140 41). Throughout the novel, Luster sneaks away to the cellar to attempt to learn the play the saw, which he heard at the show. After Luster hears the saw player (10 11), Dilsey

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16 later catches him trying to imitate the unique sound, t esting out various implements in order to replicate the haunted wobbling of a played saw. subterranean efforts to imitate sound s resembling coherent note s on his saw attempts to cobble the disjunctive pieces of the story into somethi ng resembling order. A saw works awry. Unlike the waves of a tuning fork which eventually resolve in comfort and relief, the saw cannot be brought into tune; its eerie q uality depends upon its aural elasticity. With the saw, Luster attempts to make music out of the disharmony of life at the scene, the nascent tones underscore the rhythms and disharmonies which cohere the narrative (195, 198). The eerie quality suits as no other can in accompanying the tension between order and chaos. The skill rests in finding the proper tool to draw out the potential sound of the saw, to manipulate the notes into organized sound and a coherent tune. Luster experiments with whatever implement he can find. Dilsey discovers Luster in the basement with his saw on Easter Sunday morning; he has co opted her kitche attempt to organize his world and the world of the novel. The eerie quality of a played saw accompanying the tex t, like a Mississippian aeolian harp, suits as no other instrument his region to

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17 of h is breath as he fights with the old showman in his pursuit of Miss Quentin (193), and Singing : The Sound of Enduring The reader experiences a sense of relief after navigating the first person narra tives of the brothers. It makes narrative sense for Faulkner to write the Dilsey section in the everything the Compsons are not. In fact, Faulkner, in the appendix to the novel, in which he offers descriptions and motivations for his characters, describes the rest of the (215). The brevity of the descriptions of the black characters contrasts with the rambling, overblown accounts of the members of the Compson family tree. Faulkner demonstrates opposing responses to the vagaries and vicissitudes of life through the two families. Despite her burdened, straitened circumstances, Dilsey s ings in the kitchen throughout the novel. If enduring had a sound, it would sound like Dilsey singing. One of the themes running throughout the novel is the attempt to establish order and equilibrium to makes life bearable, like water seeking a level place narrative section reflects her outward perspective of life, her world, and her role in it. Because she is oriented outward and not inward, as are the Compsons, she maintains an Her constant chore, her life mission, has been to hold the family together, to be a family together. She is the one who stays; everyone else has deserted Benjy the only one who cannot leave. Caddy runs off, abandoning her daughter, as well; Quentin commits suicide; Jason, though

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18 physically present, is emotionally stunted and unable to interact on any meaningful level hreatening to depart this world, has in reality left it long ago; Mr. Compson exited via the bottle, leaving his family to fend miserably for itself. dense sentence duri ng the Easter sermon scene: fallen cheeks, in and out of the myriad coruscations of immolation and weariness; the passive trajectory of those tears her wrinkles denial to the p oint of immolation over the years. Dilsey has literally offered herself up to the service of the Compson family, regardless of their worthiness. She embodies the selfless love of which the Compsons are incapable. She is the soul of both families. Despite t he pain and ugliness, she accepts her lot and squalor of the Compsons. The Peremptory Bells The ringing bells unite the sections and order the lives of the characters. The be lls mark the quotidian existence of the blacks of the Dilsey section, while Quentin and Jason are in turn shadowed and pursued by the implications of the bells. They punctuate the

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19 passage of time for Quentin, haunting him as he waits to die, and the bells track Jason, haranguing him in the rush toward his inevitable end. Cuddy Kew Gardens identifies the visual landmarks, and the se in its infancy, the bells in The Sound and the Fury function as soundmarks in the rratives. As Jason speeds off from the filling station as the bells follow Jaso n back after his failed attempt to apprehend Quentin with his money. 2 section and mark the movement of the Easter Sunday service; the same bells which dogged the subjecti ve worlds of Quentin and Jason now tunefully order the social and spiritual world of the community. The bell in the church, representing the announcement reminding. The headaches, leav ing the reader to hear and visualize: if pain had a voice, it would sound like this. 2 may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are ab out me and see my state may have

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20 The Birds hovers on the periphery of the novel and the lives of the characters. Neither seems to make more than the basic contributions to the lives of their families: Roskus works, despite his encroaching rheumatism, and says little, while Mr. Compson seems to app ear intermittently like an cardboard cutout, thrust into the odd scene with no purpose other than to utter fallacious sententiae to Quentin, and to reinforce his inadequate, alcoholic relationship to the rest of the family. Yet, Roskus lacks the egocentris m of the Compson father, and the lack and abundance are passed on to the respective progeny and spouses. Roskus perceives a bane on the house of Compson, and his repeated mutterings d prompts the sense of foreboding is obscured by the seemingly banal d escription surrounding the first (166). Their aural assault on the thick mo rning parodies the holiday, and portends the fall of the house of Compson.

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21 Birds figure prominently for Quentin as well. They flitter intermittently from life. Du ring the scene in which Quentin endeavors to take the little Italian girl home, the harbinger appears again: There was a bird in the woods . . The bird whistled again, invisible, a sound meaningless and profound, inflexionless, ceasing as though cut of f with the blow of a knife, and again, and that sense of water swift and peaceful above secret places, felt, not seen not heard (86). the bird implies sound. He descri both meaningless and profound; such oppositions serve to highlight the motif of indescribable sound.

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22 Chapter 4 Trying to Pray O Silence! are Man's noisy years No more than moments of thy life? Is Harmony, blest queen of smiles and tears, With her smooth tones and discords just, Tempered into rapturous strife, Thy destined bond slave? No! though earth be dust And vanish, though the heavens dissolve, h er stay Is in the WORD, that shall not pass away W ordsworth Easter Sermon: Prayer, Recollection & Longing In the Sunday go to meeting passage of the Dilsey section, Faulkner brings together the sonorous elements of the novel: the hush, the silence, and the contrasts between the two families to give the reader exquisite detail for the first time, almost sections. Here, he tells the r eader what the book is about, not only in the rhetoric of the sermon itself, but also in the strikingly detailed description of the parishioners on their way to the church. As the worshipers make their way to the church for the Easter Sunday service to th e accompaniment of the bells, Faulkner synesthetically describes their demeanor and intersection of appearance with sound catches perfectly the crinoline picture of thei r also intersecting with the white world, capturing the whispered snatches of conversation

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23 r conjoins the black and white worlds. In the every man for himself Compson economy, only Ben remains by default, and his presence in the novel serves as the unifying current between the world that is and the world that endures. He functions as the link an d symbol in which the two worlds interface: he is a white they can touch, however tentatively, and he docilely partakes in a tacit acceptance of their community. hill to view t pulpit. The worshippers, too, are brought to life in movement interlaced with sound, with und of 82). The marked shift in tone causes the reader The reaction of the congregation to this insignificant presence folds back up on them as the realization of community dissolves into recognition. They see what they missed, they see what they have been waiting for, and it is not a powerful representation Everyman and it could be any one of them. A similar effect is produced upon the reader upon laying eyes on the characters of the novel in the beginning of the Dilsey section. Just as Bleikasten notes the descriptions of Ben, Jason, and Mrs. Compson in the Dilsey section (Failure 179), the worshippers experience

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24 an analogous sensation: their response is involuntary and corporate, an expression of surprised expectations. ctions as a pivot point in the text; here the ragtag assemblers and personalities blend into a cohesive unit: the congregation. After the procession of the two ministers into the church, when the congregation as a unified whole has failed to mark the entry (182). As one voice, they express the textured sigh of the letdown of anticipation, expecting a commanding, perhaps flamboyant presence to address them in keeping with the import of the holiday. S enables Shegog to consequently assimilate with the worshippers, as in turn they absorb him into their collective transformed. 3 The mini his message which functions as the vehicle for unifying the congregation. As Noel Polk 3 Romans 8:24 hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what w e do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought,

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25 observes, the worshipper and community (135). rep eated statement, the reader as well is enjoined once again to stop and listen, as if to sibilantly picks up where the hush leaves off in a tempting gloss of hush God As he to their familiar world where their hope is in the world to come. Like Shegog, they have a primeval 4 appears demeaning, emblematizes the foolishness and weakness of the human condition artificial, elevated, studied diction of the false humanity pictured in the Compsons: he rnest, he becomes an empathetic image of the state of the 4 1 Corinthians 1:27 the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has cho sen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the

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26 Everyman. Not only does Sh coldness of their liv es, to the warmth of the parishioners, especially Dilsey, whose own disembodied enu acknowledged as the voices of the congregation fuse in tuneful response. After the ripples of the address resolve, Shegog powerfully draws the family bond tighter, in articulation of one of the Christmas, of divine birth, and of hope, linking it to the Resurrection of Easter which fluid between the recollection of the birth/crucifixion and the promise of the Resurrection: And the congregation seemed to watch him with its own eyes . until he was nothing and they were nothing and ther e was not even a voice but instead their hearts were speaking to one another in chanting measures

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27 beyond the need for words, so that when he came to rest against the reading desk, his monkey face lifted and his whole attitude that of a serene, tortured cru cifix that transcended its shabbiness and insignificance and made it of no moment, a long moaning expulsion of breath rose from ed by the lone en de blood of the recollects transfixed gaze, is reminiscent of something beyond the temporal in voice, as theirs is his. They have all experienced a glimp se into eternity, and that is enough. The functions as another feature of the motif in the novel, provides the integral rests or paus es which shade the story, foregrounding the noisy melody. As if weighted fermatas hanging in the air, the

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28 ng as a of petition, but rather a prayer of worship, recognition, acceptance, and an ticipation. For one suspended moment, the recollection of heaven becomes anticipation, becomes reality 5 Afte heads home, breaking off once again into their separate existences; one worshipper p the essence of the preceding event, an echo of the fusion they have just experienced the awe of glimpsing the recollection and the longing. The reader has come to recogniz e that eclares through her endure. She has seen the first and the last of the Comps ons, their beginning and their end; they have no heritage to pass on. She has also seen the past, present, and future, and has the power to choose her response to it, but she has also seen her own past and future, and as Faulkner liked to say. 5 1 Corinthians 13:12.

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29 Coming Home Ben remains silent on the surrey ride back from the church until the group nears the gate to the Compson property, as if they are crossing through the portal from serene community to the otherworldly consciousness of their unple asant reality. The gate, a truly pivotal representation in the novel, operates as the physical hinge: between isolation and community, between the two families, between the present and portending scene of in short, between a heaven and hel guttural anxiety of returning to the presence of absence resident in the Compson family; he is inarticulately conscious of the difference, and verbalizes it in the only way he can. Faulkner captures this consciousness the awareness of their imperfect, difficult world Contrast this forlorn view of th comparative rift between the interi or, subjective world, and that of the objective community. movement permeates the text, adding force to the silence. They know something is amiss, like Benjy smelling death; D robbery, plunges the remaining Compsons into a spiraling trajectory of final resignation. This is the end o

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30 place in her darkened room, the Bible next to her, which Dilsey has retrieved from the darkened ro om, she cannot read in the darkness of her life. Dilsey listens at the foot of out of sync with its face, but Dilsey knows the time, both literally and figuratively. She sings placidly, knowingly, but beneath the benignity of the scene of her the lunch preparations, the tragedy of the ruined Compsons plays out. Birnam Wood approaches, and time is out of joint: a temporal rupture akin to the cannabilizing horses in Mac beth psychically cannibalized one another. 6 Ben intuits the impending cataclysm. After the worshippers enter the house, he begins to whimper and moan of the congregation earlier, while Dilsey sings the same two lines of a hymn during the lunch preparation s (187) After the meal, incessant whimpering, which builds to fever p itch until the end of the novel (195). 97). Benjy is oblivious to the artificial name change which his mother had attempt ed to attach to him, while the Dilsey section signals an Abrahamic change the diminutive soundin g 6 Macbeth 2.4.1 18.

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31 the import of returning to the Compson home, and the finality of his o wn loss. He can under the sun (197). efforts to comfort Ben are futile as well, and she suggests the surrey ride in an attempt to Ben out, the broken flower comes to symbolize his break with the family Luster tenderly attempts to splint the broken flower, picturing in miniature what Dilsey family has been doing all along: trying to repair and keep the Compson family viable. During the final scene of the novel, as Luster attempts to show off his driving skills in the Jefferson town square beneath the gazeless statue of the Confederate soldier, he guid es Queenie opposite of the usual direction, shocking Ben: His mounting apprehension since the morning finds its expression in describable sound. As Jason angrily intercepts and corrects rikes wildly at Luster and Ben, that of the church scene, have eddied into a rhythm (trying to play? consciousness they were headed in the wrong direction. The righted wagon symbolizes rative safety in endurance. Ben no

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32 longer endures the Compsons. He is heedless of the state of his flower: its condition is of no matter to him that he has it is all that matters, and it is his. The rest is silence o r at least a return to the routine of en during.

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33 Conclusion the fallen ruins of the family liked a ruined chimney, gaunt, patient and indomitable; and Benjy to be the pas t. He had to be an idiot so that, like Dilsey, he could be impervious to the future, though unlike her by refusing to accept it at all. Without thought or comprehension; shapeless, neuter, like something eyeless and voiceless which might have lived, existe d merely because of its ability to suffer, in the beginning of life; half fluid, groping; a pallid and helpless mass of all agony under the sun, in time yet not of it save that he could nightly carry with him that fierce, courageous being who was to him bu t a touch and a sound that may be heard on any golf links and a smell like trees, into the ( Faulkner, Introduction 231 ) The final two words of Faulkner its publication, say those two words. They did not simply endure, but they rose above their seemingly futile existences to eke out lives of meaning and dignity. The book is a song, really, of deliverance. The y are not looking through a temporal fence for something lost and irretrievable. Their cries, like Ben acknowledge and attempt to connect, however fleetingly, to the source of their earthly sustenance. Theirs is not a Pollyanna ish faith which helps the m to just get through Faulkner elucidates a deep Christian faith and power not dependent on the individual, but on the collective recognition that they cannot unders / its perversion and its potentiality.

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34 and meaning in a fallen world rooted in a Southern heritage, and characters who, in acknowledgement of their

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35 Afterword After the Hush One of the is the abundance of contemporary commentary by the author himself. At the end of the appendix to The Sound and the Fury F aulkner sketches the back stories of the Compson family some sixteen years later after story is media ted through the Jefferson librarian, who caches a dog eared magazine photograph of Caddy in her desk, pondering it before showing it to Jason and then Dilsey. It makes for interesting intertextuality t hat it is in the personage of the librarian, the keeper of the books, toiling in a place of hushing and sibilant pages The silent place (208 12) T his is r of her story can only be told in hushes and whispers. Faulkner to only The Sound and the Fury to avoid t he well tilled Faulknerian trope of his fascination wi th John which finds its expression harpist who pur sue the maidens, in quest of the ultimate prize, forever pursuing, and

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36 forever uncaught, their music is frozen in time and space, forever heard and forever endure. The urn endures, capturing the imaginat ion in what it is trying to say and as scholars, readers, and debutantes we attempt to analyze discuss and become part of the m

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37 Works Cited Bleikasten, Andre. The Ink of Melancholy Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1990. Print. The M ost Splendid Failure Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1 976. Print. reface to Le Bruit et La Fureur Twentieth Century Interpretations o f The Sound and the Fury Michael H. Cowan, ed. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1968. Print. Cuddy and the Int elligent Ear: An Approach to A Companion to N arrative Theory P helan, James and Peter J. Rabinowitz, ed s Malden; Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005. Print. The Norton Antholog y of English Literature: The Sixteenth Century, The Early Seventeenth Century. Ed. M. H. Abrams, et. al. 7 th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1994. Print. Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury : An Authoritative Text, Background and Contexts, Criticism. Ed. David Minter 2 nd ed. New York: Norton, 1994. Print. The Holy Bible : New King James Version Dallas: Word Publishing 19 9 4. Print. Polk, Noel. Children of the Dark House Jackson: UP Mississippi, 1996. Ross, Ste phen M. Athens: U Georgia P, 1989. Print. Shakespeare, William The Necessary Shakespeare Ed. David Bevington. New York: Pearson, 2005. Print. Faulkner and the Power of So PMLA 99.1 (1984): 89 108. Print.

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38 Bibliography Fargnoli, A. Nicholas and Michael Golay, ed s William Faulkner A to Z New York: Facts OnFile, Inc. 2002. Print. Faulkner, William. Selected Letters of William Faulkner Ed. Joseph Blotner. N ew York: Random House, 1977. Peek, C harles A. and Robert W. Hamblin, eds. A Companion to Faulkner Studies W estport: Greenwood Press, 2004. Print. Polk, Noel and Kenneth L. Privratsky, eds. The Sound and the Fury: A Concordance to T he Novel Vol. 1 2. New York: UMI, 1980. Print. The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner on the Web U Mississippi, 10 October 2000. Web. 21 Jan 2010.


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ABSTRACT: "An indescribable sound" in William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury Lynn Ramsey ABSTRACT The Sound and the Fury is a noisy book. Through the audible, the barely audible, and the silence, William Faulkner supports his narrative design with sound beyond dialog to inform and inflect the destabilizing narrative voices. This essay explores Faulkner's use of the sound and noise of the novel as another narrative voice. Faulkner's rich use of sound as a recurring motif, almost a persona or narrator itself, functions not merely to animate the action, the characters, and the title; it also speaks in the "hush" and the freighted "stiffly sibilant" whispers of those who dare not speak, or are "trying to say," while simultaneously running as a voiceless current beneath the disjunctive narrative. The range and quality of sound wavers throughout, from the musical to the "indescribable," as the past and present repeatedly segue forward and back to this soundtrack. Like the otherworldly racket of Macbeth, the noise of the novel plays beneath the surface, begging to be heard. Much scholarship has been devoted to exploring Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, yet the text continues to reveal layers of meaning and resonance to yet another generation. This study seeks to interrogate the nature, function, and musicality of the sound, noise, and silence of the text as adumbrated in the rhetoric of Reverend Shegog's Easter sermon, Luster's valiant attempts to play on the saw the "inaudible tune," the ubiquitous bells, and Dilsey's determination through it all to sing. This study hopes to enter into the conversation on Faulkner's enduring work by listening to what the text is "trying to say."
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