Character Analysis Mrs. Caroline Compson


In Quentin's section, Quentin cries out in a moment of depression and agony: "If I could say Mother, Mother"; later, he cries, "If I'd just had a mother so I could say Mother Mother." These cries make us realize that Mrs. Compson has contributed strongly to the Compson doom and destruction. The children need a mother's love; instead, they have only a complaining and whining neurotic with an egocentric concern for herself. The critic Cleanth Brooks has called Mrs. Compson a weak, cold person filled with a sense of insecurity. Her self-absorption, her hypochondria, and her petulant whining leave no room for the love that the children need. Quentin realizes too late that Mrs. Compson is probably chiefly responsible for Caddy's becoming an adulteress.

Whenever Mrs. Compson tries to help with Benjy, she only causes him to bellow louder. She is incapable of understanding his needs, and she refuses to offer him any love or devotion. It is not surprising that Benjy turns to Caddy for the love that his mother denies him. It is as though Benjy instinctively knows that Mrs. Compson has rejected him. In addition, her selfishness is evident in the scenes that show her making Benjy suffer so that she will not be disturbed. Her love for her brother simply because he is a true Bascomb again emphasizes her inability to judge or evaluate the intrinsic merit of a person. Probably the most horrifying comment that can be made about Mrs. Compson is that she prefers Jason to her other children, and Jason is the most perverse of them all.