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The Old South Versus Modernism Essay

1118 words - 5 pages

Internal family issues send a powerful message. Faulkner knew that his time was a time

of change and he utilized that fact very well. He knew that many others would relate to the

Compson’s due to the modernist movement coming about. The power struggle between agrarian

ways and modernist ideals was coming to a peak. William Faulkner pits Southern tradition

against emerging modernism in The Sound and The Fury through the Compson family’s


Faulkner utilizes Quentin Compson, who strives and fails to be the textbook Southern

Gentleman, to demonstrate retaining the old ways of the South. Quentin attempts to be the

Southern Gentleman his mother wants him to be. Thomas ...view middle of the document...

The author portrays Caddy as the fallen Southern Lady to create a dynamic contrast in

the story line. Caddy’s mother drilled it into her head that she had to be the flawless Southern

Lady in order for her to succeed at life. In her article, “The Roles of Southern Women, Black and

White, In Society”, JoAnn Marshall writes, “The southern white woman is responsible for

maintaining southern social order, better known as Southern Tradition… She meekly sits there, a

symbol of southern society used to benefit men's ideals, feeling empty and powerless against

everything going on around her (Smith 141-2).” Caddy was taught to strictly follow these rules

as a young child, but never really adhered to them. Caddy decided at a young age that she was to

rebel against the traditional roles of a Southern Lady, and chase after her endeavors to become

what she wants. Caddy defies her brother, which goes against the Southern regime, when she

gets her dress wet in the branch. Faulkner writes, “She stood up in the water and looked at her

dress. ‘I’ll take it off.’ She said. ‘Then it’ll dry.’ ‘I bet you won’t.’ Quentin said. ‘I bet I will.’

Caddy said. ‘I bet you better not.’ Quentin said… ‘You unbutton it Versh, or I’ll tell Dilsey what

you did yesterday’” (20). Caddy goes so far as to intimidate Versh into helping her be rebellious,

which demonstrates her dedication to rejecting the Southern lifestyle. Caddy is the quintessential

rebel child in the way that she rejects the idea of being a Southern Lady and defies the Southern

The mother of these children, Caroline Compson, is portrayed as the failure of a Southern

Lady who wails and nags the children to be how she wants them to be. Mrs. Compson attempts

to be the true Southern Lady but fails miserably. Mrs. Compson shows her laziness and disdain

for her own child when she says, “‘It’s too early for him to go to bed.’ Mother said. ‘He’ll wake

up at daybreak, and I simply cannot bear another day like today” (Faulkner 75). Mrs. Compson

does absolutely nothing but lay in bed all day...

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