Caddy was the central character in The Sound and the Fury. There was no separate chapter to express her thoughts, but everything was connected with her. From Benjy to Jason, the narration of each of them reflected what Caddy”s life was like. Caddy was a tragic character in the novel.
In the novel, Faulkner used multiple-angled narration to express Caddy”s tragedy, and the causes of it mainly came from two aspects. One was the pressure from her family, Benjy, her youngest brother”s complete dependence on her. Quentin, her elder brother, who had a special affection for Caddy, thought excessively highly of her virginity. What Caddy had suffered caused his loss of mental balance; at last, he chose to commit suicide. Besides, her mother and brother Jason treated her heartlessly. The other cause was the backward feudalism and traditional code. All of these turned Caddy into a promiscuous, degenerate woman from a pure girl.
However, Caddy”s tragedy showed a fact that women had a low social position and were treated unfairly in the early 20th century. At that time, women got only few economical, political and educational rights, they could not enjoy equal rights with men and they were not respected by society.
Caddy; tragedy; code; women”s right
在小说中， 凯蒂是整个故事的中心，虽然没有以她的观点为中心的单独的一章， 但是所有的都与她息息相关，从班吉到杰生，他们每个人的叙述都反映出了凯蒂的生活。她所扮演的是一个悲剧角色.
The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner”s fourth novel, was his first masterpiece, and was considered his finest work. It was recognized as one of the most successfully innovative and experimental American novels of its time and one of the most challenging to interpret. The novel dealt with the downfall of the Compsons, who had been a prominent family in Jefferson, Mississippi, from before the Civil War.
Although there was not a separate chapter of Caddy in this novel, everything was related to her. Just because of the pressure that her family gave, and the traditional, idealized Southern code, she became a promiscuous, degenerate woman from a pure girl.
This thesis first gives a brief introduction to the author and the work, and then analyzes the causes of Caddy”s tragedy from two aspects, namely, the pressure from her family and the backward feudalism and the traditional code.
Lastly, the thesis analyzes Women”s social status reflected from Caddy”s tragedy. In short, Caddy”s tragedy showed how backward the feudalism of the South America was. Meanwhile, we can see that women at that time could not be respected by the society, and their social status was very low, it was unfair for them.
Ⅰ. A Brief Introduction to William Faulkner
William Faulkner was born in 1897 in New Albany, Mississippi, a prominent Southern family. A number of his ancestors were involved in the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and the Reconstruction, and were part of the local railroad industry and political scene. Faulkner showed signs of artistic talent from a young age, but he became bored with his classes later and never finished high school.
Faulkner grew up in the town of Oxford, Mississippi, and eventually returned there in his later years and purchased his famous estate. Oxford and the surrounding area were Faulkner”s inspiration for the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. These locales became the setting for a number of his works. Faulkner”s “Yoknapatawpha novels” include The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom! The Hamlet, and Go Down, Moses (Li Wenjun, 2) .
Ⅱ. A Brief Introduction to the Novel
Ⅲ. The Causes of Caddy”s Tragedy
All the readers of The Sound and the Fury know that Caddy was a tragic character in this novel. Though there was not a separate chapter of Caddy, she was the central character in this novel; and the cause of the tragedy of Caddy mainly came from two aspects.
A. The Pressure from the Family
This story was about the Compson family, which was a prominent one in Jefferson, Mississippi of the South America. Caddy was the only daughter of this family. The first section narrated by Caddy”s youngest brother Benjy, an idiot, who depended too much on her; he thought repeatedly that Caddy smells like trees. Most of his memory was centered about her. For example, at the beginning of this section, Luster leaded Benjy to a nearby course, hoping to earn back his lost quarter by fetching lost golf balls from the rough. The golf course lay on a stretch of what used to be the Compson pasture, which had been sold to developers by Mr.Compson to pay for his son Quentin”s education at Harvard. When Benjy heared one of the golfers calling out to his caddie, he moaned because the sound of the word “caddie” reminded him of his sister. In his memory, Benjy and T.P., one of the Compsons” black servants, had gotten their hands on some champagne from the wedding, though T.P. thought the beverage was merely “sassprilluh.” The two boys were drinking and keeping falling down when they watched some cows cross the yard. T.P. and Quentin got into a fight because T.P. had been teasing Quentin about Caddy. The fighting and the alcohol threw Benjy”s world into chaos, and he began to cry. Versh carried Benjy up the hill to the wedding party. Moreover, in the present, Luster was still standing with Benjy as he played in the stream. Luster told Benjy not to approach the nearby swing because Miss Quentin was there with her boyfriend, the man with the red tie. This made Benjy recall a time years ago when he saw Caddy and Charlie, her first suitor, kissing on the swing. In his memory, Benjy began to cry very loudly when Caddy”s suitor approached. Charlie growed angry at Benjy”s intrusion, which upseted Benjy even more. Caddy took Benjy back to the house and cried, because she knew Benjy was upset with her for kissing Charlie. Caddy apologized to Benjy and washed her mouth out with soap. The gate and schoolgirls reminded Benjy of a day in 1910, when he ran out of the house to look at some girls who were walking through the same gate. In his memory, Benjy managed to open the gate and run through it, he wanted to tell the girls how much he missed Caddy, he catched up with one of them. The girl screamed in terror. The scene ended with an unspecified assailant—presumably the father of one of the girls—attacked Benjy. That night, Mr. Compson wanted to know how Benjy got past the gate. He and Jason mulled over the idea of having Benjy castrated as a precaution. All of these things show how pitiful Benji was! Meanwhile, this was also the tragedy of Caddy, because from the childhood to the age hood, there was only Caddy caring for Benjy. When she divorced, their mother and Jason did not allow her to go home and meet her daughter, Quentin. But she also cared for Benjy very much; Caddy afraided that after their father”s death Benjy would be put in the mental hospital in Jackson by Jason.
Another cause came from her mother and another brother Jason. Herbert Head had offered Jason a job at his bank before Caddy married him, but rescinded that offer when he divorced Caddy. Because he knew that Caddy”s unborn child was not his. This retraction left Jason no choice but to work at the local farm-supply store. However, after Caddy divorced, her mother did not allow Caddy come back home, at last, they took in Caddy”s daughter Miss Quentin, but Caddy could not meet her. During Quentin”s growing time, Jason took away the money, which Caddy gave to Quentin, as his own. In order to meet her daughter, Caddy would like to be controlled by Jason; Jason asked Caddy to pay him a thousand dollars for seeing Quentin a minute. From these things we can see that Caddy had no right since she divorced, in her mother”s eyes, she was only an exchange condition with Jason”s job. Under the backward Southern feudalism, Caddy was doomed to be a tragic person.
B. Backward Feudalism and the Traditional Code
After the civil war, The Northern Capitalism defeated the Southern feudalism. But there was still the residue of the feudal serf system in the South America. And there was a traditional, idealized Southern code of honor and conduct, which was a legacy of the old South, a highly paternalistic society in which men were expected to act like gentlemen and women like ladies. In The Sound and the Fury, Caddy was just expected to act like a lady and Quentin like a gentleman. However, Caddy was not a person without thought, she was eager for freedom, so she became severely rebellions. In her teenage, she became very promiscuous. However, her brother Quentin believed very strongly in the ideals espoused under this traditional code: family honor; gentlemanly virtue, strength, and decency; and especially feminine purity, modesty, and virginity. Men like Quentin, who attempted to cling to these increasingly outdated Southern ideals, sensed that their grasp was slipping and their sense of order was disappearing. Their reliance on a set of outdated myths and ideals left them unequipped to deal with the realities of the modern world. Several characters in The Sound and the Fury embodied this changing of the guard from old ideals to modern realities. Damuddy, the lone representative of the old South left in the Compson family, died before any of the other action in the novel took place. Miss Quentin, the lone member of the Compsons” new generation, was not only a bastard child, but had continued in Caddy”s promiscuous ways without displaying any of the guilt that Caddy felt about something did wrong. But Caddy”s promiscuity broke the code, Quentin attempted to maintain his sense of order by responding in a manner he considered honorable. Thinking that suicide was the only way to salvage the family name, at last, he preferred the suicide. No doubt his behavior gave Caddy psychological pressure and made her feel ashamed, so that her life style was affected afterwards.
Ⅳ. Women”s Social Status Reflected from Caddy”s Tragedy
From Caddy”s tragedy, we can see that the social status of women was very low in the early of the 20th century.
A. Women Having Fewer Rights at That Time
B. Women”s Unfail Treatment
Women were long considered naturally weaker than men, squeamish, and unable to perform work requiring muscular or intellectual development. In most reindustrialize societies, for example, domestic chores were relegated to women, leaving “heavier” labor such as hunting and plowing to men. This ignored the fact that caring for children and doing such tasks as milking cows and washing clothes also required heavy, sustained labor. But physiological tests now suggest that women
have a greater tolerance for pain, and statistics reveal that women live longer and are more resistant to many diseases. Maternity, the natural biological role of women, has traditionally been regarded as their major social role as well. The resulting stereotype that “a woman”s place is in the home” has largely determined the ways in which women have expressed themselves. Traditionally, a middle-class girl in Western culture tended to learn from her mother”s example that cooking, cleaning and caring for children were the behavior expected of her when she grew up. And formal education for girls historically has been secondary to that for boys. In colonial America, girls learned to read and write at dame schools. They could attend the master”s schools for boys when there was room, usually during the summer when most of the boys were working. Besides, some of these labor laws were seen as restricting the rights of workingwomen. For instance, laws prohibiting women from working more than an eight-hour day or from working at night effectively prevented women from holding many jobs, particularly supervisory positions that might require overtime work. Laws in some states prohibited women from lifting weights above a certain amount varying from as little as 15 pounds again barring women from many jobs. In colonial America, women who earned their own living usually became seamstresses or kept boardinghouses. In 1900s, women constituted about 5 percent of the total doctors in the United States. Women also had not greatly improved their status in other professions. Moreover, women were unfair in morals. For example, if a man had slept with many women, he would not be condemned by the society, if a woman did that, just like Caddy of The Sound and the Fury, she would be regarded as a promiscuous, degenerate woman.
In a word, women could not get fair and enough rights in the early of the 20th century. Many feminists believe that a cooperative society based on social economic principles would respect the rights of women.
From The Sound and the Fury, we can see the high recognition and summary ability of William Faulkner”s view about life and history. His work appeared confusing, and sometimes it just likes the moron talking nonsense. But in fact, it was analysis of an old family”s disintegration and turn to death. It really stated an aspect about the change of the South America”s history. The Sound and the Fury embodied this aspect of Faulkner”s mature aesthetic; his paradoxical descriptions are not pointy less riddles but rather terse formulate to describe the subversion of resolved meaning, closed form, and full represemation by the language that aspires to those achievements.
Nearly every reader agreed that Caddy Compson was a key, though critics differ in how prominent her role should be. However, she was a tragic character. Her tragedy pierced through the whole story. We have to have a pity for her. Just because of her family and the backward feudal serf system and the traditional, idealized south code, Caddy became a promiscuous, degenerate woman from a pure girl. In the novel, Quentin”s struggle to reconcile Caddy”s actions with his own traditional Southern value system reflects Faulkner”s broader concern with the clash between the old South and the modern world. Like a medieval code of chivalry, the old South”s ideals were based on a society that has largely disappeared.
From Caddy”s tragedy, we can see that women only had fewer rights at that time, women got only fewer legal economical, political, and educational rights, they could not enjoy equal rights with men and they were not respected by society. However, at present, the statuses of women have already improved in many aspects, but some women are still treated unfairly. So, we must pay more attention to women”s status, no matter in the past or in the modern society, women”s rights are always an important matter. We believe that a cooperative society based on social economic principles would respect the rights of women.
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