The Motif Of Time In The Sound and The Fury

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The term “motif” refers to repeating concepts or thoughts that serve as a cohesive theme, and it often emerges as a reflection on character development or the work’s fundamental themes. Sometimes motifs return so frequently that they enrich the novel’s content and frequently attain symbolic significance. Repetition of a motif also serves as the work’s uniting concept. Each reading of the text should suggest more themes to the seasoned reader, but the objective of this section is to highlight just the time motif.

Timelessness and the passage of time is a central theme in all of Faulkner’s works. This anxiety is frequently tied to his perception of how frequently and to what extent the past invades the present. This novel’s use of time by Faulkner is striking, innovative, and incredibly successful. Essentially, each component uses temporal notions differently.

How Benjy understand time?

In Benjy’s narration, time is almost completely ignored. Benjy is indifferent to the passage of time. Constantly, events from the past are contrasted with other occurrences from the present or some other time in the past.

Benjy perceives all time as a single sensual experience. He does not differentiate between events that occurred hours ago and those that occurred years ago. The recollection of the incident at the branch in 1898 is as current and as vivid as an incident that occurred in 1914 or on the morning of April 7, 1928.

Read more here : Summary and Analysis of The Sound and The Fury

Benjy does not distinguish between the past and the present, nor does he believe in future time. If he is waiting at the gate for Caddy in 1928, it is because he has been doing so since 1902. In 1928, he is just as eager for Caddy’s return as he was years before.

The many years he has spent waiting in vain are almost nonexistent to him since he remembers only the occasions that brought him happiness. Faulkner deviates from conventional time narrative in order to underline Benjy’s denial of the boundary between different eras and, more importantly, to demonstrate how deeds from the past are significant to Benjy since they brought him pleasure. When we know that Faulkner is writing about Benjy in 1928 and that the incident Benjy recalls from 1898 foreshadows events that occur in 1906-1910, the complex use of time is very exciting.

In other words, Benjy recalls a past occurrence (Caddy getting her underwear dirty) that foreshadows a future event (Caddy’s promiscuity in 1906-1910) in the present.

Quentin’s sense of time in the sound and the fury

In contrast to Benjy, who is utterly unaware of time, Quentin expends all of his efforts attempting to comprehend time. In the  be eginning the section, he recalls his father’s remarks on the futility of striving to keep up with time.

One of his initial actions is to remove the hands from his watch. By doing this deed, Quentin intends to enter an eternal universe. He cannot, however, detach himself from time. At the jeweler’s, he observes a whole window filled with timepieces. He continuously hears the ticking of his own watch, which has no hands. He asks the youngsters by the river if they know the whereabouts of an alarm clock. And in the middle of all these ties with time, Quentin is continuously reminded of his father’s varied sarcastic remarks regarding time.

His primary issue is that his father has promised him that time will erase all grief and guilt. However, Quentin’s issue is that he is unwilling to forget. He must remember his current sentiments of mourning because, if he forgets them, they will lose their significance and, as a result, Quentin’s life would lose its significance. Thus, Quentin attempts to halt the passage of time, and the only way he can do so is by committing himself, which he accomplishes at the conclusion of his segment.

Jason’s relation with time

Time plays such a crucial role in Jason’s life that every second matters. In his segment, Caddy returns for a five-second sight of her child, Jason watches the clock and times each of his actions, and there are undeliverable telegrams, crazy chases, and other assignments.

Unlike Quentin, Jason does not value the past, with the exception of the events that cost him his job at Herbert Head’s bank. Jason’s universe exists in the present moment. He has severed all links and allegiances to the past; in the present, he lives solely for his own egotistical purposes.

How Dilsey percieve time in the sound and the fury?

Dilsey’s kitchen wall clock dominates the last portion, which emphasises the passage of time.

Dilsey knows it is 8 o’clock when the clock strikes five times. She has the ability to restore order to the Compson universe, which had been completely out of control. A lecture about the beginning and end is delivered to her in church when she brings Benjy along with her. When she goes home, she feels that she has been with the Compsons since their beginning and that she has seen indications that the end is near.

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As a result, Dilsey is the only character who can be said to be part of a time stream. Her current devotion to and commitment to the Compsons may be traced back to her time spent with them in the past.

The novel’s use of time as a motif is undoubtedly one of Faulkner’s most important concerns. ‘The characters’ reactions to the passage of time reveal a lot about the story’s deeper themes.

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