Image and Order in the Benjy Section
Since the Benjy section is so difficult, and since it presents problems that the reader has never before encountered in any other novel (that is, no amount of prior reading really prepares readers for what they are about to experience in this particular novel), it might be useful to number and date each scene, using the following outline. Faulkner himself realized how confusing this section would be and hoped to have it printed in various colored inks — color coded, as it were. His publisher refused the request.
The Benjy Section
The following page references are to the Vintage International paperback edition of The Sound and the Fury, the corrected text, published by Random House. Dating of various scenes may sometimes differ from the dating found in other publications.
P.3, Scene 1 (1928) Through the fence . . .
P.4, Scene 2 (about 1902) Caddy uncaught me . . .
P.5, Scene 3 (about 1902, earlier) "It's too cold out there."
P.6, Scene 4 (1928) What are you moaning about . . .
P.7, Scene 5 (about 1902) "What is it."
P.9, Scene 6 (1928) Cant you shut up . . .
P.9, Scene 7 (April 1913) "Git in, now, and set still . . ."
P.12, Scene 8 (1928) Cry baby, Luster said.
P.12, Scene 9 (1902) "Keep your hands in your pockets."
P.13, Scene 10 (sometime after the above scene) Mr Patterson was chopping . . .
P.14, Scene 11 (1928) "They aint nothing . . ."
P.17, Scene 12 (1898) . . . and Roskus came . . .
P.17, Scene 13 (1898, earlier in the same day) She was wet.
P.19, Scene 14 (1928) What is the matter . . .
P.19, Scene 15 (1898, same as Scene 12) Roskus came and said . . .
P.20, Scene 16 (1928) See you all . . .
P.20, Scene 17 (1898) "If we go slow . . ."
P.20, Scene 18 (April 1910) The cows came jumping . . .
P.22, Scene 19 (1898) At the top of the hill . . .
P.28, Scene 20 (1912) There was a fire in it . . .
P.28, Scene 21 (1910) Dilsey was singing in the kitchen . . .
P.29, Scene 22 (1910) Taint no luck . . .
P.30, Scene 23 (1912) Take him and Quentin . . .
P.30, Scene 24 (1912) Dilsey was singing.
P.31, Scene 25 (1912) "That's three, thank the Lawd."
P.32, Scene 26 (1912) You cant go yet . . .
P.32, Scene 27 (1928) Come on, Luster said . . .
P.32, Scene 28 (1898) Frony and T. P. were playing . . .
P.33, Scene 29 (Roskus' death — 1913 or 1914) They moaned at Dilsey's house.
P.33, Scene 30 (1898) "Oh." Caddy said . . .
P.33, Scene 31 (Roskus' death — 1913 or 1914) Dilsey moaned . . .
P.33, Scene 32 (1898) "I like to know . . ."
P.33, Scene 33 (1912) The bones rounded out of the ditch . . .
P.34, Scene 34 (1912) Then they all stopped and it was dark . . .
P.35, Scene 35 (1928) I had it when . . .
P.35, Scene 36 (1898) "Do you think the buzzards . . ."
P.37, Scene 37 (1910) When we looked around . . .
P.37, Scene 38 (1898) A snake crawled out . . .
P.37, Scene 39 (1910) You aint got to start . . .
P.38, Scene 40 (1898) We stopped under the tree . . .
P.38, Scene 41 (1910) They getting ready to start . . .
P.38, Scene 42 (1898) "They haven't started because the band . . ."
P.39, Scene 43 (1910) I saw them.
P.40, Scene 44 (1905 — around Christmas) Benjy, Caddy said, Benjy.
P.43, Scene 45 (1908) "Come on, now."
P.43, Scene 46 (Spring 1903) Uncle Maury was sick.
P.44, Scene 47 (1908) "You a big boy."
P.45, Scene 48 (1898) We looked up into the tree . . .
P.46, Scene 49 (1928) Where you want to go now, . . .
P.46, Scene 50 (about 1908-09) The kitchen was dark.
P.46, Scene 51 (1928) Luster came back.
P.46, Scene 52 (about 1908-09) It was dark under the trees.
P.46, Scene 53 (1928) Come away from there . . .
P 47, Scene 54 (about 1908-09) It was two now, . . .
P.48, Scene 55 (1928) I kept a telling you . . .
P.51, Scene 56 (May 1910) You cant do no good . . .
P.51, Scene 57 (another time in May 1910) I could hear them . . .
P.52, Scene 58 (May 1910: nighttime) How did he get out, . . .
P.52, Scene 59 (May 1910: continuance of Scene 57) It was open when I . . .
P.53, Scene 60 (1928) Here, loony, Luster said.
P.56, Scene 61 (1900) What you want to get her . . .
P.56, Scene 62 (1928) "Aint you shamed . . ."
P.57, Scene 63 (1900) I could hear the clock, . . .
P.57, Scene 64 (1928) I ate some cake.
P.58, Scene 65 (1900) That's right, Dilsey said.
P.58, Scene 66 (1928) The long wire came . . .
P.61, Scene 67 (1900) Your name is Benjy, . . .
P.61, Scene 68 (1898) . . . Caddy said. "Let me . . ."
P.61, Scene 69 (1900) Versh set me down . . .
P.62, Scene 70 (1898) Mother's sick, Father said.
P.62, Scene 71 (1900) We could hear the roof.
P.64, Scene 72 (1900) Father took me up.
P.65, Scene 73 (1928) Jason came in.
P.66, Scene 74 (1900) You can look at the fire . . .
P.66, Scene 75 (1928) Dilsey said, "You come, Jason."
P.66, Scene 76 (1900) We could hear the roof.
P.66, Scene 77 (1928) Quentin said, "Didn't Dilsey say supper . . ."
P.67, Scene 78 (1900) I could hear the roof.
P.68, Scene 79 (1928) Dilsey said, All right.
P.68, Scene 80 (1900) Versh smelled like rain.
P.68, Scene 81 (about 1909) We could hear Caddy . . .
P.69, Scene 82 (1900) Versh said, Your name Benjamin . . .
P.69, Scene 83 (about 1909) We were in the hall.
P.69, Scene 84 (1928) What are you doing to him, . . .
P.70, Scene 85 (1900) Versh said, "You move back . . ."
Scenes 86 through 99 alternate between the years 1928 (Scene 86) and 1900 (Scene 99) in a continuous pattern on pages 70 and 71.
P.72, Scene 100 (1928) She smelled like trees.
P.73, Scene 101 (1898) We didn't go to our room.
P.73, Scene 102 (1928) Quentin, Mother said in the hall.
P.73, Scene 103 (1898) Quentin and Versh came in.
P.73, Scene 104 (1928) I got undressed . . .
P.74, Scene 105 (1898) There were two beds.
The main thing to keep in mind while reading this section is the images that recur constantly. Most of these images will have greater meaning later on in the novel. The individual scenes should, therefore, be held in one's mind until they are encountered again later on in the novel, when the full import of each separate image becomes clear.
The following breakdown shows the major scenes that affect Benjy even though some of them, such as Benjy's castration, have only half a page or so devoted to them.
I. 1898: The Branch Scene and Damuddy's Death
These scenes are easiest to identify since they are all distinguished by the children being very young and also by the frequent discussion of the death of Damuddy, the children's grandmother. The black attendants during these scenes are Versh and Roskus. Confusion occurs because Benjy is referred to as Maury since his name will not be changed until 1900. Except for the first scene, the entire section is told in chronological order and can be isolated to read as follows: Scenes 13, 12, 15, 17, 19, 28, 30, 32, 36, 38, 40, 42, 48, 68, 70, 101, 103, 105.
II. 1900: The Changing of Benjy's Name
These scenes present some confusion since they offer little in the way of chronological order. Thus, the recurring images are essential in identifying some of the scenes. The principal images and references are those of Benjy looking into the fire, watching the fire sparkle in a mirror, and hearing the rain. All of these scenes occur during the last part of the section because they are not evoked in Benjy's mind until he is brought into the house during the later part of the day. These scenes in their chronological order are: Scenes 67, 71, 61, 63, 65, 72, 74, 76, 78, 80, 82, 85, 87, 89, 91, 93, 95, 97, 69, 99.
III. 1902: The Patterson Episode
These scenes are characterized by the bitter cold and by Benjy's being told to keep his hands in his pockets, but mainly by the reference to the names of Mr. or Mrs. Patterson. The scenes again do not appear in any chronological order, and readers might better understand Faulkner's technique if they will observe that the last line of Scene 2 is almost identical to the first line of Scene 9. The chronological order of this episode is as follows: Scenes 3, 5, 2, 9, 10, 46.
IV. 1905-10: Caddy's Period of Sexuality
The four years involved in this section include Benjy's first discovery of Caddy's using perfume to the final discovery four years later of Caddy's loss of virginity. The four principal scenes in this period of sexuality are connected by Benjy's sensory impression that either Caddy smelled like trees or, due to some promiscuous act, that Caddy did not smell like trees. Also running through each scene is the image of Benjy trying to force Caddy into the bathroom, where Caddy can wash away her sins.
The four scenes are subdivided as follows: Caddy and the perfume (1905): Scene 44; Benjy and Caddy at bedtime (1908): Scenes 45 and 47; Benjy, Caddy, and Charlie in the swing (1908-09): Scenes 50, 52, 54; and Caddy's loss of her virginity (about 1909): Scenes 81 and 83.
V. 1910 (April): Caddy's Wedding
The principal images are those of the "sassprilluh" (champagne) drinking, causing distorted and confusing images of Caddy in her white veil, and of Caddy's failure to smell like trees. The scenes in chronological order are as follows: Scenes 37, 39, 41, 43, 18.
VI. 1910 (May): Benjy's Castration
The principal image is that of Benjy standing at the iron gate waiting for Caddy. In chronological order, the scenes are 56, 57, 59, 58.
VII. 1910 (and later): Scenes Connected with Death
The principal images are those of dogs howling, of Benjy's being awakened and of his moaning, and of various bad luck signs about the Compson environs. These scenes may be further subdivided: Quentin's suicide (1910): Scenes 22 and 21; Mr. Compson's death (1912): Scenes 34, 33, 23, 25, 24, 20, 26; first anniversary of Mr. Compson's death (1913): Scene 7; and Roskus' death (sometime later): Scenes 29 and 31.
VIII. 1928: The Present
The presence of Luster identifies all these scenes, and they progress in chronological order. They are: Scenes 1, 4, 6, 8, 11, 14, 16, 27, 35, 49, 51, 53, 55, 60, 62, 64, 66, 73, 75, 77, 79, 84, 86, 88, 90, 92, 94, 96, 98, 100, 102, 104.