Character Analysis Benjy


Benjy is the youngest child of the Compsons and was originally named Maury, after Mrs. Compson's brother. When it was apparent that he was mentally slow, Mrs. Compson renamed him Benjamin so that the Bascomb name would not be disgraced.

Benjy's primary attribute is that he can "sense things." He knows when Caddy has been promiscuous, he knows when Quentin committed suicide, and he knows when his order, or pattern of existence, is violated. But, like the prophets of old, Benjy is unable to communicate his knowledge to others. He can only feel the deviations; he can do nothing about them. But, nevertheless, Benjy is still the moral reflector of the novel.

Some critics see Benjy as a Christ figure; as such, Benjy functions not only as one who senses the evil of the world but also as one who represents Christ's failure to save the modern world. Faulkner pessimistically presents his view of what has happened to Christ in the modern world. He has become castrated, moaning and bellowing about the condition of this world as it affects his personal comfort and pleasure and incapable of performing any constructive act, uttering a word of criticism, or offering hope for the future.

As Benjy reacts favorably to Dilsey, Caddy, and, to a lesser degree, his brother Quentin, we are able to suggest that these three people have some love or concern for others outside of themselves. Benjy therefore also serves as a character who helps the reader evaluate other characters.