The Sound and the Fury

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Ms. Quentin Compson Character Analysis

Caddy’s illegitimate daughter who is raised without knowing her mother’s name. Quentin becomes promiscuous like Caddy, but she does not feel any shame for her actions. She is also partly raised by the cruel Jason so she grows up in a home without love. She ultimately escapes with the money Jason had stolen from her and disappears.

Ms. Quentin Compson Quotes in The Sound and the Fury

The The Sound and the Fury quotes below are all either spoken by Ms. Quentin Compson or refer to Ms. Quentin Compson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of The Sound and the Fury published in 1990.
April Sixth, 1928 Quotes

Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say. I says you’re lucky if her playing out of school is all that worries you. I says she ought to be down there in that kitchen right now, instead of up there in her room, gobbing paint on her face and waiting for six niggers that cant even stand up out of a chair unless they’ve got a pan full of bread and meat to balance them, to fix breakfast for her.

Related Characters: Jason Compson IV (speaker), Ms. Quentin Compson
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

Another abrupt switch in narrative style brings us from Quentin’s almost unbearably heavy section into Jason’s comparably easy-to-read, but still disturbing, section. Clearly, from his first sentence, Jason is not as troubled as Quentin is by concepts like considering a woman a "bitch." Whereas Quentin’s whole sense of self seems to revolve around troubled concepts of masculinity and virginity, Jason is brutally practical and cruel.

We learn that the “she” of this section is Miss Quentin, Caddy’s illegitimate child who has been taken from her mother and absorbed into the Compson family as if she has no mother at all. Jason’s main concern with this younger Quentin (whose name is confusing until we realize who she is) is to make things as easy for himself as possible. He thinks of his niece as a “bitch” and the black servants, like Dilsey, who have sustained his family throughout his entire life as “six niggers that cant even stand up out of a chair unless they’ve got a pan full of bread and meat to balance them.” Jason, unlike the other Compsons, is fiercely focused on making money and making his way through life, and always assumes that he is the victim of other people's laziness and irresponsibility.

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“All right,” I says. “We’ll just put this off a while. But don’t think you can run it over me. I’m not an old woman, nor an old half dead nigger, either. You dam little slut,” I says.
“Dilsey,” she says. “Dilsey, I want my mother.”
Dilsey went to her. “Now, now,” she says. “He aint gwine so much as lay his hand on you while Ise here.” Mother came on down the stairs.
“Jason,” she says. “Dilsey.”
“Now, now,” Dilsey says. “I aint gwine let him tech you.” She put her hand on Quentin. She knocked it down.
“You damn old nigger,” she says. She ran toward the door.

Related Characters: Jason Compson IV (speaker), Mrs. Compson (speaker), Ms. Quentin Compson (speaker), Dilsey Gibson (speaker)
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

At this point in the novel’s chronology, the only people left in the Compson home are Mrs. Compson, Jason (the youngest of the four children, now grown up), Benjy, Miss Quentin, and the six black servants. The family has virtually disintegrated, and Jason makes the mistake of thinking that he’s the only one holding together what remains of the Compsons.

It has always been, throughout the novel, Dilsey and the other black servants who are the stable core of the family. But Jason struggles to be the leader of the family and establish authority over Miss Quentin, who has a tendency to skip school and ride around in cars with men.

Jason often gets angry at his niece Quentin, and here he calls her a “little slut” and threatens to beat her. Dilsey, sure of her role as the true leader of the Compson family, steps in to protect Quentin. Dilsey has raised Jason from birth on, and knows he will probably back down. Even after Dilsey protects her, though, Quentin disparages her brutally. Quentin is furious that Dilsey cannot honor her request to see her mother, and in her anger easily slips into the same racism that Jason embodies. Quentin is certainly sympathetic in comparison to Jason, but she too can be very cruel and racist.

“Remember what I say,” I says. “I mean it. Let me hear one more time that you are slipping up and down back alleys with one of those dam squirts.”

She turned back at that. “I don’t slip around,” she says. “I dare anybody to know everything I do.”
“And they all know it, too,” I says. “Everybody in this town knows what you are. But I wont have it anymore, you hear? I don’t care what you do, myself,” I says. “But I’ve got a position in this town, and I’m not going to have any member of my family going on like a nigger wench. You hear me?”

Related Characters: Jason Compson IV (speaker), Ms. Quentin Compson (speaker)
Page Number: 188-189
Explanation and Analysis:

Jason’s relationship with his niece Quentin consists, as far as we can tell, almost entirely of arguments with her in which he accuses her of sneaking around with a boy and she slips away or tells a lie. But here she takes Jason’s accusation head-on, daring “anybody to know everything I do.” Jason, concerned about his family honor but more so about his job security, insists that Quentin has earned a bad reputation around town.

We might be able to forgive Jason some of his meanness given all of the tragedies he has lived through, but phrases like this one are especially hard to read: “I’m not going to have any member of my family going on like a nigger wench.” This is doubly brutal, as Jason dehumanizes and black women while lowering Quentin to that same dehumanized status. Quentin, meanwhile, seems to revolt at every turn against this family that is at once hers and not hers; she knows her mother, Caddy, is out there somewhere but is always prevented from seeing her.

“You can say nonsense,” Mother says. “But she must never know. She must never even learn that name. Dilsey, I forbid you ever to speak that name in her hearing. If she could grow up never to know that she had a mother, I would thank God.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Compson (speaker), Candace (Caddy) Compson, Ms. Quentin Compson, Dilsey Gibson
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

Always conjuring up things to worry about besides the more pressing issues right in front of her, Mrs. Compson seeks to prevent Quentin from ever learning her mother’s name. Mrs. Compson even dreams of her granddaughter growing up “never to know that she had a mother.”

Dilsey is in a precarious position, knowing that Mrs. Compson’s wish for Quentin is absurd but also that she cannot easily disobey her. The amount of shame in the Compson family about Caddy’s illegitimate child is somewhat shocking, as it threatens to tear the family apart once again. Mrs. Compson does little of practical note to help her family-- she even burns what she thinks are checks from Caddy-- but instead mostly stays inside her room and dreads whatever might happen next. This passage also once again emphasizes the importance of names, particularly for the character of Mrs. Compson.

April Eighth, 1928 Quotes

“Fiddlesticks,” Mrs. Compson said. “It’s in the blood. Like uncle, like niece. Or mother. I don’t know which would be worse. I don’t seem to care.”

“Whut you keep on talkin that way fur?” Dilsey said. “Whut she want to do anything like that fur?”
“I don’t know. What reason did Quentin have? Under God’s heaven what reason did he have? It cant be simply to flout and hurt me. Whoever God is, He would not permit that. I’m a lady. You might not believe that from my offspring, but I am.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Compson (speaker), Dilsey Gibson (speaker), Quentin Compson, Candace (Caddy) Compson, Ms. Quentin Compson, Maury Bascomb
Page Number: 299-300
Explanation and Analysis:

Mrs. Compson is once again absorbed in her compulsive reflection on her family and whatever curse might have befallen them, leading them to such a state of ruin. As in many of Faulkner’s works, as Mrs. Compson tells it here, misfortune is “in the blood.” She lost her son Quentin to suicide, and now loses her granddaughter Quentin to what she fears might be something similar. (And in a cruel aside, she also suggests that Ms. Quentin turning out like her mother would be just as bad as killing herself like her uncle.)

Dilsey is quick to correct her— “Whut she want to do anything like that fur?”— but Mrs. Compson won’t be comforted. She laments Quentin’s suicide, wondering what reason he could have had to do such a thing. But her sadness is buried once again in self-absorption, class concerns (“I’m a lady”), and abstractions about the final cause of her misfortune (“Whoever God is, He would not permit that”). Once again, Faulkner’s doubled usage of the name Quentin allows for potent connections to be made between the two characters, even though the brother Quentin was so disturbed by the child-to-be Quentin.

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Ms. Quentin Compson Character Timeline in The Sound and the Fury

The timeline below shows where the character Ms. Quentin Compson appears in The Sound and the Fury. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
April Seventh, 1928
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...talking about the curse of the Compsons, and he says the sign of it is Miss Quentin , Caddy’s illegitimate daughter. Roskus says he knew they were unlucky when they changed Benjy’s... (full context)
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Benjy takes a toy from Miss Quentin , who is still very young, and Miss Quentin gets angry and Benjy cries. Frony,... (full context)
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Back in the present, Luster warns Benjy not to go by the nearby swing, as Miss Quentin is there with her “beau.” This makes Benjy remember encountering Caddy on the same swing... (full context)
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Back in 1928, Benjy approaches the swing and interrupts Miss Quentin and her boyfriend, who is wearing a red tie. Miss Quentin gets angry at Luster... (full context)
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...to himself. He asks Luster about it, and Luster says that men come to visit Miss Quentin every night, and she climbs down the tree outside her window to meet them. The... (full context)
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Miss Quentin comes in and is still angry with Luster, and then Jason threatens her about hanging... (full context)
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In the present again, the family sits down to dinner, and Miss Quentin complains that she doesn’t like living here, as Benjy is like “a pig” and Jason... (full context)
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...Caddy feeding him, and he remembers Mrs. Compson complaining about being sick. In the present, Miss Quentin curses Jason and leaves the table. Benjy then remembers Mr. Compson getting mad at Jason... (full context)
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...remembers Caddy smelling like trees, and then back in the present Luster is pleased that Miss Quentin gave him a quarter for the show. Benjy then returns to the past, where the... (full context)
April Sixth, 1928
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...Friday, the day before Benjy’s section takes place. Jason is arguing with his mother about Miss Quentin , Jason’s niece. Mrs. Compson is worried that Miss Quentin is skipping school, and Jason... (full context)
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Mrs. Compson cannot control Miss Quentin , but she is afraid to let Jason discipline her, as he can be cruel... (full context)
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Miss Quentin is with Dilsey in the dining room, and Jason confronts her about skipping school. Quentin... (full context)
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Miss Quentin is upset and Dilsey comforts her, promising to protect her, but then Quentin turns her... (full context)
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Jason drives Miss Quentin to school and the family’s situation becomes more clear – Caddy sends money to Quentin... (full context)
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...in the farm-supply store in town. He gets a letter from Caddy asking about whether Miss Quentin has been receiving her money. Jason then goes on an inner rant about the laziness... (full context)
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...tirade about how much he has had to work all his life, and how Benjy, Miss Quentin , his mother, and the Gibsons (Dilsey and her family) are nothing but burdens to... (full context)
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Jason then remembers Mr. Compson taking in the baby Miss Quentin , even though Mrs. Compson had disowned Caddy. In the memory Dilsey accepts that she... (full context)
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...mother had gone home. Caddy offered to pay Jason a hundred dollars just to see Miss Quentin for a minute, and Jason took her money and then gave Caddy only a passing... (full context)
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...morning Caddy found Jason at his store, trying to convince him to let her see Miss Quentin , but he bullied her into leaving, still raging about the job at the bank... (full context)
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...with Jason again, and she relented to an arrangement where she would send money for Miss Quentin ’s welfare, but she must promise to stay away from the family. Back in the... (full context)
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Miss Quentin suddenly shows up at the store, asking about the letter. Jason mocks her and says... (full context)
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...for his mother. His scheme becomes apparent – Jason himself cashes Caddy’s monthly checks for Miss Quentin and gives a false check to Mrs. Compson, who tearfully burns them. This is the... (full context)
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...Jason gives his mother the false check, and she laments what a burden she and Miss Quentin are to Jason, but she still burns the check, as she wants no charity from... (full context)
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...Jackson as soon as he can, as he is embarrassed and annoyed by Benjy’s presence. Miss Quentin doesn’t come home for dinner, which upsets Mrs. Compson and makes Jason feel justified in... (full context)
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...starts mocking and tormenting Earl’s old black assistant, but he is interrupted when he sees Miss Quentin pass by the store with a man in a red tie. The red tie is... (full context)
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...a Ford, and then he sees the man in the red tie driving it and Miss Quentin in the passenger seat. Crazed with anger, Jason chases the Ford five miles out from... (full context)
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...he follows the tire tracks of the Ford into some underbrush. He hopes to catch Miss Quentin having sex with the man in a ditch, but then he hears their car start... (full context)
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Jason arrives and finds Luster, who says that Mrs. Compson and Miss Quentin are fighting upstairs and Dilsey is trying to mediate. Luster complains about how he can’t... (full context)
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...and reads the paper, and he threatens to make Dilsey bring him his food unless Miss Quentin and his mother will come downstairs for dinner. They submit, and the three sit at... (full context)
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Mrs. Compson then complains about how she doesn’t understand Miss Quentin , and how none of her family loved her except for Jason. Mrs. Compson says... (full context)
April Eighth, 1928
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...tenderness and sympathy. Jason comes downstairs, angry and sarcastic about his broken window. He accuses Miss Quentin , who is still asleep – she is always allowed to sleep in on Sundays... (full context)
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Upstairs Dilsey calls gently for Miss Quentin , but there is no response. Jason suddenly understands what has happened and gets up... (full context)
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...wailing again, and Dilsey and Luster try to calm him down. Dilsey asks Luster about Miss Quentin , and Luster says he sees her sneak out of her room and go down... (full context)
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...Compson house to find Jason still gone. Mrs. Compson is in bed, still convinced that Miss Quentin has killed herself, probably to hurt Mrs. Compson herself, and she wants Dilsey to find... (full context)
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...to Jason, who arrives at the sheriff’s house, demanding they leave immediately and track down Miss Quentin . The sheriff delays, finally saying that he is suspicious of Jason’s accusation. Jason grows... (full context)
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...and victimized. He imagines himself attacking the sheriff, but he does not think specifically of Miss Quentin or his money – for him they only exist as an extension of the bank... (full context)
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...towards Mottson, which is where the minstrel show will be next week – Jason thinks Miss Quentin will be there with the man in the red tie. Jason starts to get a... (full context)
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Jason reaches Mottson and finds the minstrel show tent. He wants to ambush Miss Quentin and get his money back quickly, but first he comes across a frail old man.... (full context)
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...leads him around the corner, explaining that the old man is crazy. Jason asks about Miss Quentin , and the man says that she and the man with the red tie are... (full context)
Appendix: Compson: 1699-1945
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The last Compson is Miss Quentin , Caddy’s daughter, who was “doomed to be unwed” from the moment she was born.... (full context)