The Sound And The Fury, Caddy Compson By William Faulkner

2255 words - 9 pages

Values are instilled from generation to generation ensuring that society is able to function with a sense of order. However, if humans grow mired in greedy and lustful intentions and expectations and allow these values to decline, then their lives are set up for gradual destruction. In William Faulkner’s iconic novel, The Sound and the Fury, Caddy Compson illustrates this decline in values as readers observe the results of her downfall on everyone who depends on her. Despite illustrating her as a strong and independent mother-figure, Faulkner uses Caddy's decline to argue that unrealistic and cumbersome expectations can lead to an erosion in personal values.
Prior to presenting the expectations her brothers have of her, Faulkner establishes a series of prerequisites to her downfall as an explanation for their unreasonable and selfish intentions. The Compson encounter little parental support due to the obsessions and selfishness of their parents. Mrs. Compson is depicted as a woman who finds parenting a punishment from God, stating: "I thought that Benjamin was punishment enough for any sins I have committed. I thought he was my punishment for putting aside my pride and marrying a man who held himself above me I don't complain; I loved him above all of them because of it because my duty" (Faulkner 154). She is thus painfully unable to support her children and leaves Caddy with no moral compass to help navigate through the development of a young woman. Mr. Compson, an equally pitiful parent, is obsessed with honor. When his children are unable to live up to his reputation and embody the aristocratic image he wishes for his family to represent, he secludes himself from the rest of the world and drinks himself into a stupor and eventual death. This not only leaves not only leaves Caddy without a stable parenthood but also causes her siblings to flock to her as their mother-figure. Thus, Caddy is forced to mature and fulfill the expectations as a mother for all of her siblings from a very young age.
In addition to the failure of her parents, Caddy's antithetical characteristics also leave her vulnerable to the unrealistic expectations of her brothers. While unable to nurture all of her siblings alike, she shows remarkable compassion to her brother Benjy. Ted Roggenbuck notes that while the Compson family "constantly attempts to suppress Benjy's cries," Caddy "tries to understand it" (583). In this way, she establishes an intimate relationship with her disabled younger brother and similar relationships with all of her brothers, which causes them to depend on her in their times of pain and see her as a pillar of love. Yet despite this image of kindness, Faulkner also presents Caddy as a woman who participates in acts of adventure and lust, two characteristics often condemned in Southern culture. Because she is forced to mature at an such young age, she also prematurely finds lust as a proper way to relieve the stress of natural responsibility. She...

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