Date of Award

1-1-2010

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

English Language and Literatures

Sub-Department

English

First Advisor

Brian Glavey

Abstract

This thesis focuses on William Faulkner's novel The Sound and the Fury and the role sexuality plays in Quentin Compson's construction of identity. I propose that Quentin is incapable of reconciling his potential homosexuality with the expectations his family, friends and elite Southern society place on him, thereby causing him to commit suicide. Examining Caddy Compson's overt sexuality and Quentin Compson's quiet virginity, I incorporate Walter Benn Michaels' criticism from Our America: Nativism, Modernism, and Pluralism to explore how sexuality is inextricable from identity and draw from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet to incorporate Queer Theory to support my argument. Moreover, I discuss the form of the novel, focusing on Benjy and Quentin's sections and the similarities in each. Faulkner writes so intensely in the mode of stream-of-consciousness in these first two sections that the need to address the use of language, the common themes between Benjy and Quentin's sections and the issues raised by Faulkner's choice to link these two brothers in such a way necessitate examination. Although these characters are indeed fictional, they exemplify Faulkner's innovation for form and subject matter through his subtle articulations of controversial issues that lie beneath the surface of the more commonly explored, explicit ones. More importantly, these characters illustrate the danger of social constructs regarding sexuality, the false logic behind class divisions and the absurdity of maintaining appearances that are simply illusions.

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