'The Sound and the Fury' Quotes

A closer look at William Faulkner's famous and controversial classic

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

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"The Sound and the Fury" is a complex and controversial novel set in the Deep South. Its author, William Faulkner, is considered one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. The novel is required reading for many high school and college students as an interesting study of humanity.

The quotes from the book below have been separated out by chapters for an easy way to get a sense of the storyline and characters. Notice how Faulkner developed his characters further through the use of intentional misspellings and poor punctuation.

April Seventh, 1928

"'You're not a poor baby. Are you. Are you. You've got your Caddy. Haven't you got your Caddy.'"

"Father and Quentin can't hurt you."

"'Carry Maury up the hill, Versh.' Versh squatted and I got on his back."

"'They ain't no luck on this place.' Roskus said. 'I seen it at first but when they changed his name I knowed it.'"

"'They aint no luck going be on no place where one of they own chillen's name aint never spoke.'"

"We watched the muddy bottom of her drawers."

"You got him started on purpose, because you know I'm sick."

"Caddy held me and I could hear us all, and the darkness, and something I could smell. And then I could see the windows, where the trees were buzzing. Then the dark began to go in smooth, bright shapes, like it always does, even when Caddy says that I have been asleep."

June Second, 1910

"I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools."

"That never had a sister."

"Because if it were just to hell; if that were all of it. Finished. If things just finished themselves. Nobody else there but her and me. If we could just have done something so dreadful that they would have fled hell except us. I have committed incest I said Father it was I."

"It's not when you realize that nothing can help you—religion, pride, anything—it's when you realize that you don't need any aid."

"Holding all I used to be sorry about like the new moon holding water."

"What a sinful waste Dilsey would say. Benjy knew it when Damuddy died. He cried. He smell hit. He smell hit."

"I didn't mean to speak so sharply but women have no respect for each other for themselves."

"Father and I protect women from one another from themselves our women."

"There was something terrible in me sometimes at night I could see it grinning at me I could see it through them grinning at me through their faces it's gone now and I'm sick."

"Purity is a negative state and therefore contrary to nature. It's nature is hurting you not Caddy."

"And maybe when He says Rise the eyes will come floating up too, out of the deep quiet and the sleep, to look on glory. And after a while the flat irons would come floating up. I hid them under the end of the bridge and went back and leaned on the rail."

"Only you and me then amid the pointing and the horror walled by the clean flame."

"I could not be a virgin, with so many of them walking along in the shadows and whispering with their soft girl voices lingering in the shadowy places and the words coming out and perfume and eyes you could feel not see, but if it was that simple to do it wouldn't be anything and if it wasn't anything, what was I."

"I'll tell you how it was it was a crime we did a terrible crime it cannot be hid you think it can but wait."

"Don't cry I'm bad anyway you cant help it."

"There's a curse on us its not our fault is it our fault."

"Listen no good taking it so hard its not your fault kid it would have been some other fellow."

"I hit him I was still trying to hit him long after he was holding my wrists but I still tried then it was like I was looking at him through a piece of colored glass I could hear my blood."

"I seemed to be lying neither asleep nor awake looking down a long corridor of gray halflight where all stable things had become shadowy paradoxical all I had done shadows all I had felt suffered taking visible form antic and perverse mocking without relevance inherent themselves."

"The dungeon was Mother herself she and Father upward into weak light holding hands and us lost somewhere below even them without a ray of light."

"A fine dead sound we will swap Benjy's pasture for a fine dead sound."

"it was to isolate her out of the loud world so that it would have to flee us of necessity and then the sound of it would be as though it had never been."

April Sixth, 1928

"Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say."

"Ask her what became of those checks. You saw her burn one of them, as I remember."

"I'm bad and I'm going to hell, and I don't care. I'd rather be in hell than anywhere where you are."

"I never promise a woman anything nor let her know what I'm going to give her. That's the only way to manage them. Always keep them guessing. If you cant think of any other way to surprise them, give them a bust in the jaw."

"I began to feel sort of funny and so I decided to walk around for a while."

"Mother was going to fire Dilsey and send Ben to Jackson and take Quentin and go away."

"I'm glad I haven't got the sort of conscience I've got to nurse like a sick puppy all the time."

"If I'm bad, it's because I had to be. You made me. I wish I was dead. I wish we were all dead."

"Sometimes I think she is the judgment of both of them upon me."

"And just let me have twenty-four hours without any damn New York Jew to advise me what it's going to do."

"I just want an even chance to get my money back. And once I've done that they can bring all Beale street and all bedlam in here and two of them can sleep in my bed and another one can have my place at my table too."

"She had been a big woman once but now her skeleton rose, draped loosely in unpadded skin that tightened again upon a paunch almost dropsical, as though muscle and tissue had been courage or fortitude which the days or the years had consumed until only the indomitable skeleton was left rising like a ruin or a landmark above the somnolent and impervious guts."

April Eighth, 1928

"It was as different as day and dark from his former tone, with a sad, timbrous quality like an alto horn, sinking into their hearts and speaking there again when it had ceased in fading and cumulate echoes."

"I got de ricklickshun en de blood of de Lamb!"

"I seed de beginnin, en now I sees de endin."

"harshly recapitulant, seeming to get an actual pleasure out of his outrage and impotence. The sheriff did not appear to be listening at all."

"Of his niece he did not think at all, nor of the arbitrary valuation of the money. Neither of them had had entity or individuality for him for ten years; together they merely symbolised the job in the bank of which he had been deprived before he ever got it."

"Caddy! Beller now. Caddy! Caddy! Caddy!"

"There was more than astonishment in it, it was horror; shock; agony eyeless, tongueless; just sound, and Luster's eyes backrolling for a white instant."

"The broken flower drooped over Ben's fist and his eyes were empty and blue and serene again as cornice and façade flowed smoothly once more from left to right, post and tree, window and doorway and signboard each in its ordered place."