American Literature books summary
appearances in the town; he wants her forever to remain the unstained,
saintly mother/sister he imagines her to be.
Quentin did not, of course, commit incest with Caddy. And yet the
encounters he remembers are fraught with sexual overtones. When Caddy walks
in on Quentin and Natalie kissing in the barn, for instance, Quentin throws
himself into the "stinking" mud of the pigpen. When this fails to get a
response from Caddy, he wipes mud on her:
You dont you dont I'll make you I'll make you give a damn. She hit my hands
away I smeared mud on her with the other hand I couldnt feel the wet
smacking of her hand I wiped mud from my legs smeared it on her wet hard
turning body hearing her fingers going into my face but I couldnt feel it
even when the rain began to taste sweet on my lips (137).
Echoing the mud-stained drawers that symbolize her later sexuality, Quentin
smears mud on Caddy's body in a heated exchange, feeling as he does so her
"wet hard turning body." The mud is both Quentin's penance for his sexual
experimentation with Natalie and the sign of sexuality between Quentin and
The scene in the branch of the river is similarly sexual in nature. Quentin
finds Caddy at the branch trying to wash away the guilt she finds; amid the
"suck[ing] and gurgl[ing]" waves of the water. When he asks her if she
loves Dalton Ames, she places his hand on her chest and he feels her heart
"thudding" (150). He smells honeysuckle "on her face and throat like paint
her blood pounded against my hand I was leaning on my other arm it began to
jerk and jump and I had to pant to get any air at all out of that thick
gray honeysuckle;" and he lies "crying against her damp blouse" (150).
Taking out a knife, he holds it against her throat and tells her "it wont
take but a second Ill try not to hurt." She replies "no like this you have
to push it harder," and he says "touch your hand to it" (151). In this
scene we have the repetitive surging both of the water and of Caddy's blood
beneath Quentin's hand. We have the two siblings lying on top of one
another at the edge of this surging water, the pungent smell of honeysuckle
(which Quentin associates with sex throughout the section) so thick around
them that Quentin has trouble breathing. We have a knife (a common phallic
symbol) which Quentin proposes to push into Caddy's blood-flushed neck,
promising he will "try not to hurt." Overall, the scene overflows with
sexual metaphors; if the two do not actually commit incest, they certainly
do share a number of emotionally powerful, sexually loaded moments.
Quentin's wish to have committed incest is not a desire to have sex with
Caddy; that would shatter his ideals of purity even more than her
encounters with Dalton Ames. Nor is it, as we have determined, a way to
preserve the family honor. Instead, it seems to be a way to keep Caddy to
himself forever: "if it could just be a hell beyond that: the clean flame
the two of us more than dead. Then you will have only me then only me then
the two of us amid the pointing and the horror beyond the clean flame"
(116). Separated from the rest of the world by the "clean" purifying flames
of hell, Quentin and Caddy could be alone together, forever burning away
the sin of her sexuality. He would rather implicate himself in something as
horrible as incest than leave Caddy to her promiscuity or lose her through
her marriage to Herbert Head.
If time-words are the most frequently occurring words in this section, the
second most frequent is the word "shadow." Throughout his journeys, Quentin
is just as obsessed with his shadow as he is with time. For example, he
walks on his shadow as he wanders through Cambridge: "trampling my shadow's
bones . . . . I walked upon the belly of my shadow" (96). When asked what
the significance of shadows was in this section, Faulkner replied "that
shadow that stayed on his mind so much was foreknowledge of his own death,
that he was - Death is here, shall I step into it or shall I step away from
it a little longer? I won't escape it, but shall I accept it now or shall I
put it off until next Friday" (Minter, qtd. in Martin, 6). This explanation
certainly seems to fit some of Quentin's thoughts; for example, at one
point, he imagines drowning his shadow in the water of the river, just as
he will later drown himself: "my shadow leaning flat upon the water, so
easily had I tricked it . . . . if I only had something to blot it into the
water, holding it until it was drowned, the shadow of the package like two
shoes wrapped up lying on the water.
Niggers say a drowned man's shadow was watching for him in the water all
the time" (90). Here Quentin imagines his drowned shadow beckoning him from
the river, drowned before him and waiting for him to follow suit.
Like his shadow mirroring his motions and emotions, certain aspects of his
day's travels mirror his life and the troubled state of his mind. Most
obvious among these is his encounter with the Italian girl he calls
"sister" and the reaction of her brother Julio. Calling this little girl
"little sister" or "sister" ironically recalls Caddy, whom Quentin at one
point calls "Little Sister Death." But whereas his suicidal mission is
caused by the fact that he cannot hold on to Caddy, here he cannot get rid
of this "little sister," who follows him around the town and will not leave
him. Then when Julio finds them, he accuses Quentin stealing her, just as
Quentin feels Dalton Ames and Herbert Head have stolen Caddy from him.
Julio is not the only character to mirror Quentin, though. As Edmond Volpe
points out, Dalton Ames himself is a foil for Quentin, the embodiment of
the romantic ideal he has cast for himself:
Quentin's meeting with Dalton is a disaster. His conception of himself in
the traditional role of protector of women collapses, not only because he
fails to accomplish his purpose [of beating Dalton up] but because he is
forced to recognize his own weakness. Dalton is actually a reflection of
Quentin's vision of himself: calm, courageous, strong, kind. The real
Quentin does not measure up to the ideal Quentin, just as reality does not
measure up to Quentin's romantic vision of what life should be (113).
Quentin is in actuality the "obverse reflection" of himself, a man who does
not live up to his own ideals, who fails to protect his sister from a
villain who turns out to be as chivalrous and Quentin is weak.
Thus at the "infinitesimal instant" of his death, Quentin is a man whose
disillusionment with his shattered ideals consumes him. His death, one of
the "signs" Roskus sees of the bad luck of the Compson family, is one step
in the gradual dissolution of the family, a degeneration that will pick up
speed in the sections to come.
Summary of April Sixth, 1928:
Beginning with the statement "once a bitch always a bitch," this section
reads as if Jason is telling the reader the story of his day; it is more
chronological and less choppy than Quentin's or Benjy's sections, but still
unconventional in tone. Jason and his mother in her room waiting for
Quentin to finish putting on her makeup and go down to breakfast. Mother is
concerned that Quentin often skips school and asks Jason to take care of
it. Both Jason and his mother are manipulative and passive-aggressive,
mother complaining about the ailments she suffers and the way her children
betrayed her, Jason countering with statements like "I never had time to go
to Harvard or drink myself into the ground. I had to work. But of course if
you want me to follow her around and see what she does, I can quit the
store and get a job where I can work at night" (181). Jason goes down to
the kitchen, where Quentin is begging Dilsey for another cup of coffee.
Dilsey tells her she will be late for school, and Jason says he will fix
that, grabbing her by the arm.
Her bathrobe comes unfastened and she pulls it closed around her. He begins
to take off his belt, but Dilsey stops him from hitting her. Mother comes
in, and Jason puts down the belt. Quentin runs out of the house. In the car
on the way to town, Quentin and Jason fight about who paid for her
schoolbooks - Caddy or Jason. Jason claims that Mother has been burning all
of the checks Caddy sends. Quentin tells Jason that she would tear off any
dress that he paid for and grabs the neck of her dress as if she will tear
it. Jason has to stop the car and grab her wrists to stop her. He tells her
that she is a slut and a bad girl, and she replies that she would rather be
in hell than in his house. He drops her off at school and drives on to his
job at the farm goods store.
At the store, old Job, a black worker, is unloading cultivators, and Jason
accuses of him of doing it as slowly as he possibly can. He has mail; he
opens a letter with a check from Caddy. The letter asks if Quentin is sick
and states that she knows that Jason reads all her letters. He goes out to
the front of the store and engages in a conversation with a farmer about
the cotton crop. He tells him that cotton is a "speculator's crop" that "a
bunch of damn eastern jews" get farmers to grow so that they can control
the stock market (191). He goes to the telegraph office, where a stock
report has just come in (Jason has invested in the cotton crop) - the
cotton stock is up four points. He tells the telegraph operator to send a
collect message to Caddy saying "Q writing today" (193).
He goes back to the store and sits at his desk, reading a letter from his
girlfriend Lorraine, who is basically a prostitute he keeps in Memphis. She
calls Jason her "daddy." He burns her letter, commenting "I make it a rule
never to keep a scrap of paper bearing a woman's hand, and I never write
them at all" (193). Then he takes out Caddy's letter to Quentin, but before
he can open it some business interrupts him. He recalls the day of his
father's funeral; he remembers saying that Quentin wasted his chance at
Harvard, learning only "how to go for a swim at night without knowing how
to swim," Benjy is nothing but a "gelding" that should be rented out as a
circus sideshow, Father was a drunk who should have had a "one-armed strait
jacket," and Caddy is a whore (196-197).
Uncle Maury patted Mother's arm with expensive black gloves at the funeral,
and Jason noted that the flowers on the grave must have cost fifty dollars.
He also remembers the day that Father brought baby Quentin home; Mother
would not let her sleep in Caddy's old room, afraid she will be
contaminated by the atmosphere in there. She also declares that nobody in
the house must ever say Caddy's name again. On the day of the funeral,
Caddy appeared in the cemetery and begged Jason to let her see the baby for
just one minute, and she would pay him fifty dollars; later she changes
this to one hundred dollars. Jason smugly remembers how he took the baby in
a carriage and held her up to the window as he drove past Caddy; this
fulfilled his agreement to the letter. Later she showed up in the kitchen,
accusing him of backing out of their agreement. He threatened her and told
her to leave town immediately. She made him promise to treat Quentin well
and to give her the money that she sends for her.
Jason's boss, Earl, comes up to the front of the store and tells Jason he
is going out for a snack because they won't have time to go home for lunch;
a show is in town and there will be too much business. Jason finally opens
Caddy's letter to Quentin, and inside is a money order for fifty dollars,
not a check. He looks around in the office for a blank check; every month
he takes a fake check home to mother to burn and cashes the real check. But
the blank checks are all gone. Quentin comes in and asks if a letter has
come for her. He taunts her, then finally gives her the letter, without the
money in it. She reaches out for the money order, but he will not give it
to her. He tells her she has to sign it without looking at it. She asks how
much it is for, and he tells her it is for ten dollars. She says he is
lying, but he will not give it to her until she agrees to take ten dollars
for it. She takes the money and leaves, upset.
Earl returns and again tells Jason not to go home to lunch; Jason agrees
and leaves. First he goes to a print shop to get a blank check. The print
shop doesn't have any, and finally Jason finds a checkbook that was a prop
at an old theater. He goes back to the store and puts the check in the
letter, gluing the envelope back to look unopened. As he leaves again, Earl
tells him not to take too much time. He goes to the telegraph office and
checks up on the stock market, then goes home for lunch. He goes up to
Mother's room and gives her the doctored letter. Instead of burning it
right away she looks at it for a while. She notices that it is drawn on a
different bank than the others have been, but then burns it. Dilsey is not
ready with lunch yet because she is waiting for Quentin to come home;
finally she puts it on the table and they eat. Jason hands Mother a letter
from Uncle Maury; it is a letter asking her to lend him some money for an
investment he would like to make.
Jason takes Mother's bankbook with him and returns to town. He goes to the
bank and deposits the money from Caddy and his paycheck, then returns to
the telegraph office for an update; the stock is down thirteen points. He
goes back to the store, where Earl asks him if he went home to dinner.
Jason tells him that he had to go to the dentist's. A while later he hears
the band from the show start playing. He argues with Job about spending
money to go to a show like that. Suddenly he sees Quentin in an alley with
a stranger with a red bow tie. It is still 45 minutes before school should
let out. He follows them up the street, but they disappear. A boy comes up
and gives Jason a telegram: the market day closed with cotton stocks down.
He goes back to the store and tells Earl that he has to go out for a while.
He gets in his car and goes home. Gasoline gives him headaches, and he
thinks about having to bring some camphor with him when he goes back to the
store. He goes into his room and hides the money from Caddy in a strongbox
in his room. Mother tells him to take some aspirin, but he doesn't. He gets
back in his car and is almost to town when he passes a Ford driven by a man
with a red bow tie. He looks closer and sees Quentin inside. He chases the
Ford through the countryside, his headache growing by the second. Finally
he sees the Ford parked near a field and gets out to look for them; he is
sure they are hiding in the bushes somewhere having sex. The sun slants
directly into his eyes, and his headache is pounding so hard he can't think
straight. He reaches the place where he thinks they are, then hears a car
start up behind him and drive off, the horn honking. He returns to his own
car and sees that they have let the air out of one of his tires. He has to
walk to the nearest farm to borrow a pump to blow it back up.
He returns to town, stopping in a drugstore to get a shot for his headache
and the telegraph office; he has lost $200 on the stock market. Then he
goes back to the store. A telegram has arrived from his stockbroker,
advising him to sell. Instead he writes back to the broker, telling him he
will buy. The store closes, and he drives home to the sounds of the band
playing. At home, Quentin and Mother are fighting upstairs, and Luster asks
him for a quarter to go to the show. Jason replies that he has two tickets
already that he won't be using. Luster begs him for one, but he tells him
he will only sell it to him for a nickel. Luster replies that he has no
money, and Jason burns the tickets in the fireplace. Dilsey puts supper on
the table for him and tells him that Quentin and Mother won't be coming to
Jason insists that they come unless they are actually sick. They come
down. At dinner, he offers Quentin an extra piece of meat and tells her and
Mother that he lent his car to a stranger who needed to chase around one of
his relatives who was running around with a town woman. Quentin looks
guilty. Finally she stands up and says that if she is bad, it is only
because Jason made her bad. She runs off and slams the door. Mother
comments that she got all of Caddy's bad traits and all of Quentin's too;
Jason takes this to mean that Mother thinks Quentin is the child of Caddy
and her brother's incestuous relationship. They finish dinner, and Mother
locks Quentin into her room for the night. Jason retires to his room for
the night, still ruminating on the "dam New York jew" that is taking all of
his money (263).
Analysis of April Sixth, 1928:
Jason's section appears more readable and more conventional; its style,
while still stream-of-consciousness, is more chronological in progression,
with very few jumps in time. It reads more like a monologue than a string
of loosely connected events, like Benjy's and Quentin's sections were.
Critics have claimed that the book progresses from chaos to order, from
timelessness to chronology, from pure sensation to logical order, and from
interiority to exteriority as it travels from Benjy's world of bright
shapes and confused time through Jason's rigorously ordered universe to the
third-person narrative of the fourth section. This third section represents
a shift into the public world from the anguished interiority of Benjy and
Quentin, and a shift into "normal" novelistic narrative as Jason recounts
the story of the events of the day.
The first sentence of each section reveals a lot about the tone and themes
of that particular part; this is especially true with Quentin's and Jason's
section. In Quentin's section, the first sentence draws the reader into his
obsession with being caught "in time" and includes two of the most common
symbols in the section: time and shadows. Jason's section begins "once a
bitch always a bitch, what I say," introducing both Jason's irrational
anger not only toward his sister and her daughter, but toward the world in
general, and also the rigorous logic that runs through this section (180).
Jason's world is dominated by logic. Once a bitch, always a bitch; like
mother, like daughter. Caddy was a whore, so is her daughter. He is furious
at Caddy for ruining his chances at getting a job, and the way she ruined
his chances was to bear an illegitimate daughter; therefore the way he will
get revenge on her and simultaneously recoup the money he lost is through
this same daughter. Caddy should have gotten him a job, but instead she had
Quentin; therefore it is his right to embezzle the money she sends to
Quentin in order to make up for the money he lost when he lost the job.
Jason's logic takes the form of literalism. Caddy is responsible for
getting him money, no matter where it comes from. She sends money each
month for Quentin's upkeep; he keeps Quentin clothed, housed and fed, so
the money should go to him. He himself claims that he "make[s] it a rule
never to keep a scrap of paper bearing a woman's hand," and yet he keeps
the money from the checks Caddy sends him; this act fits into his system of
logic because he cashes the checks, literally getting rid of her
handwriting while keeping the money. He allows his mother to literally burn
the checks she sends, but only after he has cashed them in secret. When
Caddy gives him 100 dollars to "see [Quentin] a minute" he grants her
request to the letter, holding the baby up to the carriage window as he
drives by, literally allowing Caddy only a minute's glimpse (203-205). When
Luster can't pay him a nickel for tickets to the show, he burns the tickets
rather than give then to him (255). All of these acts fit into a rigid and
literally defined logical order with which Jason structures his life.
Some readers see Jason's logic as a sign that he is more "sane" than the
rest of his family. He is not retarded like Benjy or irrationally
distraught like Quentin. He is able to live his life in a relatively normal
way, with a logical order to both his narrative and his daily activities.
However, Jason is just as blind, just as divorced from reality as his
brothers. Like them, he tries to control his life through a strictly
defined order, and when this is disrupted he collapses into irrationality.
Benjy's system of order is the routine of everyday life, disrupted on a
grand scale when Caddy leaves and on a small scale when Luster turns the
horses the wrong way or changes the arrangement of his "graveyard."
Quentin's system of order is the honor and purity he saw in himself and
Caddy when they were young, disrupted when Caddy loses her virginity and
leaves him. Jason's system of order is the rigidity of his logic, most of
Рефераты бесплатно, курсовые, дипломы, научные работы, реферат бесплатно, сочинения, курсовые работы, реферат, доклады, рефераты, рефераты скачать, рефераты на тему и многое другое.
При использовании материалов - ссылка на сайт обязательна.