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| The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner Essay


The stability of any community is derived from families that form that community. It is from these families that the society gets leaders and servants who serve the society in varied calibers. The family unit is also the custodian of the society’s moral values. Virtues and vices are all learnt and practiced at the family level before they finally find their way to the societal arena. There is a popular saying that charity begins at home, signifying that before someone’s character is known elsewhere, it is first has to be known at his or her home. The multiplicity in behavior that is observed in the society is a true reflection of the situation in families and the buck always stops with parents, i.e. father and mother.

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Parents have the moral obligation to establish and propagate impeccable moral principles, which will epitomize children’s future traits in the wider society. A failure to capture this crucial responsibility is what often results in assorted social injustice that the contemporary society grapples with every day. Parents can give or deny the world righteous leaders just by the way they conduct themselves and bring up their children. Leadership has a noble role in shaping lives of people. This essay analyzes political implications of the novel The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. In addition, the essay describes how the novel conveys attitudes that concern race and gender and why these attitudes are communicated in this manner.

The Political Implications of The Sound and the Fury Book

The Sound and the Fury novel has been quite instrumental in shaping the American society politically and in particular the Southerners. During early 20th century, a noticeable number of Southern families, which serve as the model of Compson’s family, revived hopes for a bright and fruitful future (Faulkner, 1929). Learning from the aftermath of the civil war as elucidated in the novel, they re-embedded their lives on modernism and Southern renaissance. It is noteworthy that through the lessons drawn from the novel many Southerners began shunning the primitive attitude of prejudices that the whites held about black Americans. The rift that had earlier been widened between black and white Americans began narrowing as people began interacting and engaging on friendlier terms with each other regardless of race or gender.

The federal government played a significant role in uniting the two territories as well by bringing together Northerners and Southerners, which had been earlier drifting apart due to divergent opinions and perceptions they held concerning slavery. It was observed that the Southerners had never concurred with the federal government and the notion of Northerners relating to abolishment of slavery. The move caught the Southern states unawares and unprepared because they had for long depended on blacks for labor on their expansive farms and, therefore, they were worried that abolition would jeopardize their agricultural progress. Northerners seemingly did not have much worry since they had made considerable progress in industrialization and much of their labor was then mechanized.

Faulkner’s book awakened a sense of consciousness among people. The society saw the need for an equal society. Through proper legislation, racism was largely mitigated as many racial issues were resolved by allowing blacks to begin operating freely. They were allowed to join trade unions just like white Americans and many disparities that had earlier been the order in public and private institutions gradually began vanishing. Many whites began appreciating blacks for whom they were and allowed then to make contributions to the society. Just like Disley in the Faulkner’s novel The Sound and the Fury, the blacks began being depended upon in many ways for they demonstrated the aptitude for making a big impact in the society.

However, some aristocratic families still dwelt in an intense socio-economic and psychological distraught, which had downed on them during and after the period of civil war and reconstruction. Many, just like Compson’s family, lived in oblivion, being completely detached from the reality of the world around them. Others of the same model were left in a haze of self-absorption, which corrupted core values that these families once embraced. The newfangled generation would therefore be deprived of a concrete foundation of moral principles that would guide them into becoming responsible and resourceful people of the modern society.

As articulated in the story, the families’ corruption of the Southern values cultivated households that were absolutely devoid of love as seen in Compton’s family. Generally, love is supposed to be the force of cohesion in the family and the society at large. Parents were pragmatically hands off and even ineffective to manage their own personal affairs. This situation is a big threat to the society and ultimately the government because when families are unstable socially, emotionally, and even economically, they become an unnecessary burden to the community, which will have to contrive ways of helping them pick up themselves lest they resort to unjust practices such as crime and other social evils.

Loss of moral values of the society as depicted in Compton’s family can be highly detrimental to the family, as well as the community from which the family originates. More often than not it would require the courtesy of individual who are just to redeem the lost reputation. Just as in the disgruntled family of Compton, the only loving member as described at the end of the novel is Dilsey. She is the only character who holds firmly onto her moral values without being corruptly influenced by self-absorption. Through Disley, the hope for the renewal of traditional Southern values is revitalized. She represents persistent righteousness through which the society discerns a bright future. Compson’s legacy can therefore be preserved courtesy of Diley’s character as she is described by the preacher as the only one who saw the beginning and witnessed the end. Through the character of Disley, Faulkner implies that the problem affecting the American community is actually not old Southern values, but the fact that these values are corrupted right from the family level such as the one of Compson and should therefore be revised to allow the restoration of the Southern greatness.

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All these intricacies are attributed to the instability that resulted from the mayhem of civil war and reconstruction. Since the occurrence of the ordeal, innumerable families have never recovered as much of their livelihood was blown out of proportion and subjected the families to terminal devastation. The federal and state governments realized how significant political stability was to the lives of citizens and how leadership patterns defined destinies of different individuals in the society. Had these events not taken place, it is presumed that Compson’s family and others of the same model would have maintained and even improved their reputation.

How the Novel Conveys Attitudes Concerning Race and/or Gender

In his book The Sound And The Fury, Faulkner extensively talked about many issues that were affecting the society at that time. Issues that featured most in his narration were race and gender. Faulkner conveys strongly the message about the society’s attitudes about race. According to Faulkner (1929), blacks endured undue prejudice from predominantly white Americans. Whites viewed blacks as the motley lot, which could only be entrusted with servitude errands in their farms as well as their homes. Many families, especially from Southern America, including the Compsons, hired female serfs in their homes to look after all chores for the family. Disley is the best example of blacks who are perceived to be a natural reserve for enslavement. It is this mentality that necessitated the activism for civil rights. Ostensibly, the majority of black people were also mistreated by being subjected to forced labor with no remuneration and had their fundamental rights violated. For instance, they were denied access to good amenities alongside the whites and were not allowed to join trade unions through which they could champion their rights.

Faulkner also uses Disley to denote consistency of righteous people in applying correct moral values in their lives. Such people give the society a hope for a bright future for they approach every situation with optimism. Since Disley is also black, she represents the optimism that black Americans hold firmly that one day things will be better than what they are during the turbulent time. Through her humility and her perseverance, Disley has lived in the Compton’s family for a long time and has seen the good times as well as the bad times (Faulkner, 1929). She is the only one believed to be the remaining hope for this disgruntled family. This denotes perseverance that the blacks have had since the times of intense slavery through which they have learnt a lot of values that can salvage the society during critical times.

Besides, the author wants to show the society that every person is of value to the community regardless of race or gender. Despite the fact that the Compson’s family has more male that female people, it is still disintegrating, meaning that it is not someone’s race or gender that matters, but right attitudes and consistent application of moral values, which help people to salvage themselves from malignant situations. If gender were sufficient, then many families, including the Compsons, could not have been affected by the devastation of the civil war. Instead, black people could have been the ones to suffer from the consequences of that event. Similarly, in the Compson’s family, Disley could be the only one who is tribulations, but instead readers see a contrary situation where she is seemingly the only one who has the hope to transcend tough times and the only one with emotional stability.

Faulkner also uses Caddy to portray people with capability of causing some credible transformation in the society, but such people are always ignored or denied a chance to make that happen. Caddy is contrived as the character that is quite considerate of all people regardless of their situation or status. Her love for Benjy confirms this fact. According to Faulkner, she has the capacity to redeem the reputation of their family since none among the sons demonstrated that. To her dismay, she is disowned after she conceived out of wedlock and she relocates to another country. This should have been the best talent to tap so that she could reconstruct the family. The society is similar to this scenario. Mostly, people who possess a vision of transforming the society are viewed as a disgrace because of their minor shortcomings, which can still be corrected.


Compton’s family is an example of what a number of aristocratic families go through in their lifetime. It signifies that no status is permanent and people should always be ready to cope with whichever circumstances that arise in life. Failure of the Compson’s family to pick itself up occurs due to the fact that they were caught off-guard. All their life, no one from the Compton’s family has dreamt of experiencing what they are going through. They are therefore stuck in the state of denial where they have refused to accept reality and realign their lives once more. Disley’s attitude has been used to denote that any direction in life depends on one’s emotional stability. Her change in status does not matter as long as she is alive and her dreams remain valid. The society should emulate Disley’s example because life is full of dynamics and whenever troubles come, people should not be depressed, but strive to surmount them.

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