Caddy's Brother Benji essay example

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Heart's Darling: Faulkner and Womanhood In William Faulkner's The Sound and The Fury, Caddy Compson is the anchor character because Faulkner himself is so obsessed with her that he is unable bring her down off a platform enough to write words for her. Instead, he plays out his obsession by using her brothers as different parts of himself through which to play out his fantasies and interact with her. Faulkner writes himself into the novel by creating male characters all based on aspects of his own personality. In Freud's personality theory the human personality is composed of three parts; the id, the ego and the superego. (Freud 17) By writing about Caddy from her three brothers' perspectives, Faulkner is able to use each brother as a vessel for expressing his different personal feelings about the character Caddy. Caddy's brother Benji is mentally retarded, making him out of contact with reality.

He never speaks, we only hear his basic impulsive wants, needs and feelings. Benji represents Faulkner's id. The id only knows what it wants, it doesn't know why or how or whether is it right or wrong. Benji loves Caddy more than anything but he does not have the intellectual power to say what he wants to say. Faulkner writes Benji as his id in order to indulge himself in his basic feelings of love and attachment for Caddy.

Here we see her as a woman who is always there for him, promises never to leave him. Benji repeats over and over that Caddy 'smells like trees. ' (Faulkner 6). She is organic, natural, innocent and free-spirited. Caddy was all wet and muddy behind, and I started to cry and she came and squatted in the water. 'Hush now. ' she said.

'I'm not going to run away. ' So I hushed. Caddy smelled like trees in the rain. (Faulkner 19) Faulkner also uses Benji as his voice to say that he doesn't want her to grow up, doesn't want her to use perfume. He wants her always to stay an innocent little girl. He wants to show that he is helpless as Caddy begins to grown up and mature and become sexual.

This is the part of Faulkner that wants women to be the eternal virgin mother figure. The older brother, Quentin, is also obsessed with Caddy and is upset as she becomes sexually active. Through Quentin, Faulkner is able to express his own incestuous feelings toward her by playing out this fantasy as her brother. Quentin represents the ego in Freud's personality theory. The ego has access to consciousness and reality but doesn't know the difference between right and wrong. He has such strong feelings for Caddy that he tells his father that he has committed incest with her.

This is where Faulkner falls prey to his own virgin / whore complex. Quentin's character wants to have sex with his sister so that they will be banished from society and be forced to run away together. Faulkner wants to have sex with Caddy so that no one else will be able to. This illustrates how men want women to be virginal, but also want to be the ones to take their virginity. Since Quentin failed to be the one to take her virginity, he tries to fight the man who succeeded in the conquest.

(Faulkner 160) He equates sex to death, first wanting to destroy the man who took her virginity, then wanting to 'kill' Caddy herself. candy do you love him now I don't know outside the grey light the shadows of things like dead things in stagnant water I wish you were dead do you you coming in now are you thinking about him now I don't know tell me what youre thinking about tell me stop stop Quentin you shut up you shut up you hear me you shut up are you going to shut up all right I will stop well make too much noise Ill kill you do you hear (Faulkner 158) The conflicting feelings Quentin has for Caddy are representative of the conflicting feeling Faulkner has about wanting women to be pure, while still wanting them to be sexual. The superego is represented by Jason. He is the most pre-occupied with the way society views both him and the family. The superego is the part of the personality that has to deal with society the most. (Freud) The superego has to control the ego and tell it what is and isn't appropriate. When the superego is overworked, it becomes obsessed with it's appearance to others which causes anxiety and stress.

When Caddy's illegitimate daughter, Quentin, is living in the house with them, Jason is so anxious about the seemed downfall of the Compson family in the eyes of society that he acts in anger. Faulkner has Quentin continue in Caddy's footsteps, disrespecting the family by being seen with men. He takes his anger out on Quentin for what Caddy did to the family's honor. When Quentin escapes, Jason tells the sheriff; 'The bitch that cost me a job, the one chance I ever had to get ahead, that killed my father and is shortening my mother's life every day and made my name a laughing stock in the town. I won't do anything to her. ' (Faulkner 304) He is able to show through Quentin, the illegitimate daughter, the results of what happen to a woman when she has premarital sex and gets pregnant.

This is why he makes Quentin rebellious and difficult. He is able to allow himself to hate her by having her child continue to disgrace the family. Through Jason, Faulkner is able to indulge in hating Caddy for losing her virginity and, in his eyes, becoming a whore. Faulkner is unable to give Caddy a voice because he doesn't want to ruin her.

He refers to Caddy Compson as his 'heart's darling' (Faulkner). Since Caddy Compson is Faulkner's own creation, she is his ultimate view of womanhood. He creates this woman who he builds up to perfection, only to bring her back down. By placing Caddy Compson as the anchor character of the book, Faulkner gives a voice to his own feelings about women.


Faulkner, William. The Sound and The Fury. Harrison Smith and Jonathan Cape, 1929.
Corrected text, Vintage Books, a division of Random House, New York: 1984.
Faulkner, William. The Sound and The Fury: The Corrected Text with Faulkner's Appendix. Norton, 1994.
Freud, Sigmund. Ego and the Id of Sigmund Freud (The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological works of Sigmund Freud Series). Trans. Joan Riviere Ed. James Strachey. Norton, W.W. & Company Inc, New York: 1972.