The Sound and the Fury (1929) is one of William Faulkner's most famous novels, and considered by many to be his Magnum Opus. 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 extremely dysfunctional Compson family, is set in the Deep South 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 appendix that clears up a few issues and describes what happens to everyone that wasn't already dead by the novel's end.
Apocalyptic Log: Quentin's section has some elements of this, particularly when 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.
Berserk Button: DO NOT say disparaging things about women, or anything that suggests that you've never had a sister, in front of Quentin.
Big Brother Instinct: 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.
Dead Guy Junior: Caddy names her daughter after 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.
Deep South: The broader scope of the novel is the fall of pre-Reconstruction southern society and its obstinate refusal to take the transition lightly.
Defiled Forever: Even though Caddy wasn't raped by Dalton Ames, everyone has this reaction to her having lost her virginity to him.
Downer Ending: The Compsons, a noble family with a proud Southern Heritage, completely destroys itself within two generations.
Innocent Inaccurate: 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.
Mind Screw: 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.
My Beloved Smother: Caroline Compson is this to her favorite son Jason, who turns out to be as terrible as she is (though in a different way).
Non-Linear Character: 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.
Non P.O.V. Protagonist: Caddy, the main character of the novel, is the only Compson child not to receive a section told from her POV.
Not What It Looks Like: 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.
One Mario Limit: 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.
Painting the Medium: 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 Despair Event Horizon.
Parental Favoritism: Mrs. Compson only cares for her son Jason, and pays little attention to any of her other children.
Unconventional Formatting: 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.