Book Review: The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury - Wikipedia

The Sound and the Fury follows the family tragedy of fallen landowners the Compson family in the South. Old Compson loafed and drank too much. His wife is selfish and cruel and complains about everything. The eldest son Quentin desperately clings to the so-called old traditions of the South because his sister Caddy’s liberal approach to sex is seen as a disgrace to the identity of a southern lady. The second son Jason is cold and greedy. The third son Benji is mentally disabled he has the intelligence of a three year-old at age thirty-three. Through the inner monologue of the three sons, the whole novel starts around Caddy’s depravity, and finally it is supplemented by the limited perspective of the black maid Dilcey Gibson. Faulkner adopts a multi-angle narrative approach in this book.

The relationship between children who live without love and warmth in a family is full of contradictions and discord. Jason was a victim of his parents’ cold war. His mother’s preference for Jason caused him to be isolated from the other children. While in childhood Caddy, Quentin, and Benji played together, Jason was far away alone. In order to protect the interests of Benji, Caddy rankled Jason. Growing up in isolation, Jason lacks a sense of security and trust in others and becomes callous and cynical. After taking charge of family affairs as an adult, Jason curses, sneers, and blackmails Katie as a kind of revenge. In the absence of maternal love in the family, all these problems potentially led to the decline of the Compsons.

As for Benji, Mr. Compson showed no love and care because of his mental deficiency. With Jason, Mr. Compson took a cold and dismissive attitude. Mr. Compson was partial to his daughter Caddy but neglected her proper guidance, letting her go as she pleased. Mrs. Compson as a mother exhibited the least care and love for her children and never thought of their welfare. She saw her mentally retarded son as a punishment from God, believed that Caddy had been hostile to her since childhood, and that Quentin’s suicide was an act of revenge against her. From The Sound and the Fury, we can also see Faulkner’s high level of understanding and summarizing ability of life and history. Although his work is confusing and sometimes dreamlike, it actually presents a side of historic change in the American South through the disintegration and dying of an old family. As you can see, the old South has indeed collapsed irretrievably. Its economic base has long since deteriorated, and its remaining superstructure is crumbling. Caddy’s fall implies the downfall of the Southern code of ethics. Benji had limbs but no ability to think, while Quentin had complicated thoughts but lost the ability to act. The other brother Jason saw only money in his eyes and simply abandoned his old values.

-Coreen C.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: 9780307386885 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

In Mansfield Park, Jane Austen skillfully combined the Cinderella theme with the fairy tale of the abandoned princess. Cinderella Fanny was brought up by an unworthy father, but without losing her natural goodness and gentleness. Fanny’s good qualities were in stark contrast to her shabby and dirty home in Puss. In Austen’s first several novels, the heroine’s moral standard is always higher than the traditional social concept, so that she can marry a good man. It is a reward for their good qualities, or compensation for their troubles and sufferings, and such heroines themselves are the yardstick of good judgment and good feelings. But Fanny Price, the heroine of Mansfield Park, succumbed to the virtues of those around her, such as Sir Thomas, the only father of Austen’s novels to be praised, and Edmund.

Fanny sought the traditional virtues of good manners and religious feeling, and she became an ardent supporter of the traditional moral standards. The book also catered to the praise of many traditionalist critics at the time. In the novel, Austen used the gentle words and deeds of Fanny to express her moral educator’s idea that moral perfection is difficult to achieve and needs to be achieved at the cost of self-restraint and sacrifice. The female voice is required to be static, so her eyes become the most effective agent. Because in the spiritual life of England in the 19th century, the moral sense was very strong. The church and its moral precepts, which dominated people’s lives, evoked not a desire to save souls but a sense of duty.

Therefore, in Mansfield Park, Austen strictly rejected the vigorous spirit of the immoral Mary Crawford, and blindly affirmed the weakness of the holy Fanny who believed in Christianity. This strange and abnormal likes and dislikes are the core of the intention of this novel. Austen made this frightened little daughter from a poor family conquer all people with virtue and finally became the mistress of Mansfield Manor. It shows holiness and greatness, emphasizes the close connection between happiness and virtue, and firmly believes that a good person has the right to develop and fulfill herself according to her own nature and good deeds.

Bar Mitzvah!

Recently, one of my friends, Zac, turned 13 and explained to me that he was holding something called a Bar Mitzvah. I wondered what that was, because I’d never attended one; I was expecting just a normal birthday party.

After doing some research, I realized that traditionally a Jewish child would participate in a coming-of-age ceremony at 13, called a Bar Mitzvah. I finally understood what the event was now.

My friends and I attended the Bar Mitzvah to celebrate with Zac, and it was such a great experience. There were two parts: The Torah, and then the reception later in the evening. The way the Bar Mitzvah is held is actually really similar to that of a wedding, with the long tables, DJ, dance floor, flower assortments, lights, etc.

I was very impressed in the dedication that Zac put forth in the ceremony. He memorized long Hebrew passages and sang songs to praise Jesus. The ceremony lasted about an hour, where he underwent many different spiritual rituals, like one particular flag-bearing. He did really well, especially while playing his guitar and reading his well-prepared speech. It was also very touching when his parents gave a speech and recognized him as a truly worthy son. Zac told us that he’d spent almost two years, and all that hard work and dedication really paid off!

Finally, the reception was very well put together. There was a lot of dancing (Zac got lifted and twirled up in the air on a chair), and it was all fun. There was ice cream, and three courses that were extremely tasty. The family put a lot of effort in the arrangements and the whole event turned out really well. I really enjoyed this event, and had the time of my life!

-Katherine L.