The Sound and the Fury

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Quentin’s Watch Symbol Analysis

Quentin’s Watch Symbol Icon
Quentin’s father gave him his watch in the hopes that it would make him occasionally forget about time, but the watch only increases Quentin’s obsession. Because it belonged to his father and grandfather, the watch reminds Quentin of his family’s honor and heritage, which then contributes to his guilt and depression regarding Caddy’s sins and his own perception of how the family has fallen. Quentin tries to break the watch to free himself from its constant haunting presence, but the watch keeps ticking even without its hands. When he goes to drown himself, Quentin leaves the watch behind in his room, but it is the sense of time – and his own unimportance within history – that actually drives him to suicide. This watch also symbolizes the larger theme of time itself, and how different characters perceive it in the novel. For Benjy the past and present meld together into one vague series of perceptions, but for Quentin everything is precisely marked off by the defined ticking of his watch.
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Quentin’s Watch Symbol Timeline in The Sound and the Fury

The timeline below shows where the symbol Quentin’s Watch appears in The Sound and the Fury. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
June Second, 1910
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon his dorm room at Harvard, sees a shadow on the wall, and hears his watch ticking. The watch belonged to his grandfather, and Quentin remembers his father giving him the... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
...lets all the sounds of the street fade away except for the ticking of his watch. He goes to a clock shop and gives his broken watch to the man behind... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
...there are any factories around that whistle on the hour, and shows them his broken watch. The boys walk away, arguing about where they will fish or swim next. (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
A bell sounds again, and Quentin puts on his vest and puts his watch into Shreve’s desk drawer. Then he brushes his teeth, puts on his hat, and leaves... (full context)