Summary and Analysis Easter Sunday


Summary and Analysis

The final section, the shortest of the four, is narrated by Faulkner himself. The principal figure in this section is Dilsey, the black cook. Amid all the sound and fury of the Compsons, Dilsey is able to bring peace and order. But Faulkner does not confine himself to her. Instead, he steps back from the closeness of the earlier sections and presents a somewhat panoramic view of the entire Compson world and of Dilsey's world. This section takes place on Easter Sunday.

When Dilsey arrives at work on Sunday morning, she immediately begins to set the house in order. She notices the clock, which strikes five times, and she knows that it's eight o'clock. Dilsey will ultimately emerge as a person who can bring order out of the chaos created by the Compsons.

When Jason discovers the theft of the money, he almost loses control of himself. It is not so much that he has lost the money — which is indeed very important to him — but rather that he has been made a fool of by Miss Quentin. He feels that this is another trick played on him, similar to the trick Caddy played on him by being pregnant when she married, or the trick that his brother Quentin played on him when Quentin committed suicide. Also, the theft is significant because Caddy will no longer be sending any more checks, and Jason will have to confess to his mother — or else actually put his own check into her bank account. The theft is a kind of poetic justice because the money was actually sent by Caddy for Miss Quentin, and Jason stole it from her. However, it wasn't three thousand dollars, as Jason reported to the sheriff; it was more like seven or eight thousand dollars. Further poetic justice prevails when Jason, who has always bullied every person he met, tries to bully the little man with the traveling show, and the man takes a hatchet to Jason.

When Dilsey takes Benjy to church, we see her faith in God and in the rightness of things. She firmly believes that the good Lord doesn't care whether Benjy is intelligent or not. She is proud to take him to her church with her because white folks, even his own family, are so ashamed of him. In contrast, whereas Mrs. Compson feels that Benjy is a "judgment on her," Dilsey simply offers Benjy her love and devotion.

The sermon that Dilsey hears moves her deeply. It is a sermon about the great equalizing force of death and about the beginning and ending of things. Dilsey feels that she is now seeing the ending of the Compson family. She has been with them so long that she also feels that she was there toward the beginning.

Dilsey's greatness lies in the fact that she does not condemn people for their past actions. The fact that Caddy became pregnant is unfortunate, but this fact alone is not cause enough to cast her out of the house and never let her see her own child. She cannot understand bringing up a child and never allowing the mother's name to be spoken in the house. Dilsey cannot condemn one for a past action because the present is more important and the future is the determining factor in her life. That is, Caddy committed an improper act, but now Miss Quentin is here and the important thing is devotion to Miss Quentin.

Dilsey possesses all those qualities that are absent from the Compsons. She is the only one left who can understand Benjy's needs. When she sends Luster out with Benjy in the surrey, she wants Luster to go the exact same way that T. P. always went. Luster cannot understand Benjy's needs, but Dilsey knows that Benjy's mind is simple and needs things in their ordered place. Therefore, when Luster turns the wrong way at the square, Benjy senses that things are not in their ordered place and begins to howl. As soon as the horse is turned around, however, everything becomes ordered for Benjy and he becomes quiet.

The novel ends with Benjy commenting on the lack of order in the world. The only thing he can do is to howl when that order is violated.

By the end of this section, we have seen a depiction of the modern world as a place where the old values of the past are meaningless and the values of the present are destructive. In presenting the degeneration and collapse of a once-noble family, Faulkner has penetrated deeply into the psychological and moral deviations that have contributed to its decay. In summary, Faulkner sees this once-noble family as now consisting of a whining, neurotic mother; a drunken, cynical father; a son who commits suicide; a daughter who commits adultery; a son who becomes an amoral materialist; and finally, a son who is a bellowing, thirty-three-year-old castrated boy-man. Furthermore, no member of the family is able to establish a meaningful relationship. The closest tie is that formed by Benjy and his sister, but Benjy is incapable of understanding the relationship except as it gives him pleasure.