''The Sound and the Fury'' (1929) is one of WilliamFaulkner's most famous novels, and considered by many to be his MagnumOpus. Because it's by William Faulkner, it is both mildly incomprehensible and heart-wrenchingly tragic (once you manage to figure out what's going on). The book, about the [[BigScrewedUpFamily extremely dysfunctional Compson family]], is set in the DeepSouth during the early 1900s. The main story is about the four Compson siblings: Benjy, Quentin, Jason, and Caddy. The book is divided into four sections, each told by a different member of the Compson family. The first section is from the perspective of Benjy, who is mentally retarded and doesn't ''quite'' understand what is going on. The second section is told by Quentin, who by that time has pretty much forsaken his family and is a student at Harvard. Quentin has issues. The third section is told by Jason, and it is the first section that is in any way comprehensible. The last section is a standard third person omniscient narrative focusing on Dilsey, the Compsons' black cook, and the only character who realizes the self-destructive behaviors of the Compsons.

In 1945, Faulkner wrote an [[http://www.usask.ca/english/faulkner/main/index.html appendix]] that clears up a few issues and describes what happens to everyone that wasn't already dead by the novel's end.

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!!This novel provides examples of:
* AllLowercaseLetters: The end of Quentin's section.
* ApocalypticLog: [[spoiler:Quentin]]'s section has some elements of this, particularly when [[spoiler:he suddenly blacks out in the middle of a sentence, leading to a flashback, but, because his mind's breaking down, it's told without any punctuation]].
* BerserkButton: DO NOT say disparaging things about women, or anything that suggests that you've never had a sister, in front of Quentin.
* {{Blackmail}}: [[spoiler:Jason]] does this to Caddy.
* BigBrotherInstinct: All the Compson boys have strong opinions on Caddy. Quentin's definitely falls into this trope. The reason he confesses to incest with her is that, if the two of them committed an act that atrocious, they would at least endure whatever punishment they deserved together.
* BrotherSisterIncest: Just to be clear: Caddy and Quentin DID NOT have a sexual relationship, although Quentin spends the entirety of his section ranting about how they did. This is a lie that he told to his father, who made him believe that [[AManIsNotAVirgin A Man Who Is Not A Virgin Is Worthless]].
* CloserToEarth: Benjy. He can ''smell'' Caddy's lost virginity.
* DeadGuyJunior: Caddy names her daughter after [[spoiler: her brother Quentin, who killed himself. This results in a surprising moment in Benjy's narrative in which Quentin is mentioned carrying out a particular action, but this action is described using feminine pronouns. It almost looks like a typo for a moment, until the reader realizes that there are two people named Quentin.]]
* DeepSouth: The broader scope of the novel is the fall of pre-Reconstruction southern society and its obstinate refusal to take the transition lightly.
* DefiledForever: Even though Caddy wasn't raped by Dalton Ames, everyone has this reaction to her having lost her virginity to him.
* DownerEnding: [[spoiler: The Compsons, a noble family with a proud Southern Heritage, completely destroys itself within two generations]].
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:Quentin]].
* FanNickname: Girl Quentin, fem!Quentin, Quentin II, Quentin Jr., etc.
* FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator: Caddy is the central figure of the novel, but it is narrated from the perspective of four other characters. Faulkner even said that [[WordofGod Caddy is the real protagonist of the story.]]
* FreudianExcuse: Every. Single. Compson.
* FunetikAksent: The blacks and Italians in the story have very strong phonetic accents. This was standard at the time - compare HuckleberryFinn.
* GenerationXerox: Caddy and her daughter.
* GoodBadGirl: Caddy.
* IncestSubtext: Quentin and Caddy.
* InnerMonologue
* InnocentInaccurate: One of the reasons that Benjy's section is difficult to understand is that he himself cannot understand much that is going on around him (he is mentally retarded). While he frequently narrates flashbacks, but he narrates said flashbacks in present tense as if they're happening right now because he has no concept of time.
* IvyLeagueForEveryone: Quentin is a student at Harvard.
* {{Jerkass}}: Jason.
** Luster is pretty nasty towards Benjy.
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: "the sound and the fury" is [[ShoutOutToShakespeare a quote from]] Theatre/{{Macbeth}}.
** And the first part could be seen as "a tale told by an idiot."
** [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic It's symbolic of all the meaningless traditions the Compsons desperately cling to]], [[spoiler: which ultimately culminate in their demise]].
* MagicalNegro: Dilsey.
* ManipulativeBastard: Jason, especially concerning Caddy and her daughter.
* MindScrew: In their respective sections, Benjy and Quentin both disregard chronology in such a way that it's almost impossible to understand what is happening until you can put them into a larger context.
* MyBelovedSmother: Caroline Compson is this to her favorite son Jason, who turns out to be as terrible as she is (though in a different way).
* [[MyGirlIsNotASlut My Sister Is Not A Slut]]: [[spoiler: In order to preserve Caddy's dignity after she becomes pregnant out of wedlock, Quentin confesses to committing incest with her so that their parents won't think she was sleeping around. Yes, in the Compson family, [[SkewedPriorities pre-marital sex is a worse sin than incest]]]].
* MySisterIsOffLimits: Quentin's attitude towards Caddy. [[spoiler: He's not very good at enforcing this rule.]]
* NietzscheWannabe: Quentin's father preaches nihilism to him.
* NonLinearCharacter: Benjy literally cannot tell the difference between the past and the present - everything seems to be happening to him at the same time. Quentin is not one of these, but his disjointed narrative gives the impression of it.
* NonPOVProtagonist: Caddy, the main character of the novel, is the only Compson child not to receive a section told from her POV.
* NoPunctuationPeriod: Quentin's narrative near the end.
* NotWhatItLooksLike: A little Italian girl follows Quentin around for awhile, and he tries to find out where she lives - upon which her brother attacks him, under the impression that he was trying to kidnap and molest her. In spite of his innocence, Quentin still has to pay a hefty fine.
* OneMarioLimit: Averted with Jason and Jason Jnr. Also averted with the two Quentins, which is just one of the many, many things which makes Benjy's narrative difficult to follow.
* OnlySaneMan: Dilsey, especially in relation to the Compsons.
* PaintingTheMedium: In Benjy's narrative, shifts in time are indicated with ''brief passages in italics''. Quentin's narrative is almost entirely based on this trope, the formatting and sentence structure growing increasingly erratic and disjointed as Quentin approaches the DespairEventHorizon.
* ParentalFavoritism: Mrs. Compson only cares for her son Jason, and pays little attention to any of her other children.
* SanitySlippage: Quentin's narrative.
* SlidingScaleofIdealismVersusCynicism:
** Jason, disdainful of everyone around him and full of bitterness, is at the cynical end of the spectrum. His section even begins, "Once a bitch always a bitch."
** Quentin, with his ideals, though often misguided, of honor and gentlemanly conduct, is at the idealistic end. Sufficed to say, reality and lofty ideals don't always mix well.
** Mr. Compson's wearied cynicism and nihilistic outlook are a counterpoint to Quentin's adherence to abstract concepts such as honor and purity.
** Faulkner himself is much more on the idealistic side than his characters-- the ending shows that [[spoiler:it is Dilsey and her family who will inherit the earth, because they are held up by some degree of hope]].
* SuicidePact: [[spoiler:Quentin tries, and fails, to make one with Caddy]].
* TheNounAndTheNoun
* UnconventionalFormatting: In Quentin's narrative, sentences are broken up with short phrases in italics, there are long passages with extremely disjointed arrangement of text, and as the narrative goes on it begins to shed punctuation, paragraph breaks, capital letters and conventional sentence structures. This is used to visually represent Quentin's declining mental state.
* UnreliableNarrator: Quentin. It can be difficult at times to discern what really happened.
** Arguably, all of the narrators qualify to a greater or lesser extent. The ''most'' reliable (in the sense of partiality) narrator is Benjy, who is also mentally retarded.
* VirginPower: Caddy's virginity is a big honking deal.
* WellDoneSonGuy: Just one part of Quentin's very heavy emotional baggage.
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