That Evening Sun

by

William Faulkner

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Mr. Compson Character Analysis

Mr. Compson is the father of Quentin, Caddy, and Jason. A wealthy white man, he employs Nancy and Dilsey as servants. Although Mr. Compson is relatively sympathetic towards Nancy (he lets her stay in the house one night and walks her home when she is afraid of Jesus), his attitude towards her is marked by condescension and dismissiveness. Although Mr. Compson seems to be behaving in a chivalrous way towards Nancy, he places the blame for the situation on her—claiming that Jesus would not be angry with her if only she would “leave white men alone” and not work as a prostitute. The insinuation that Nancy has led white men on demonstrates Mr. Compson’s patriarchal and racially bigoted worldview. Mr. Compson also seems to take a casual and lighthearted approach to Nancy’s belief that Jesus is stalking her. Although he walks her home several times, when he is reprimanded by Mrs. Compson he immediately gives up Nancy’s cause and tells her to walk home alone. He also chooses to leave her alone and unprotected at the end of the story, telling Nancy that he has checked the ditch and that Jesus is not in there. When Quentin looks in the ditch, however, he sees that it is too dark to tell whether anyone is hiding there or not; this suggests that Mr. Compson has lied to placate Nancy and to save himself the task of taking responsibility for her wellbeing.

Mr. Compson Quotes in That Evening Sun

The That Evening Sun quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Compson or refer to Mr. 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:
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of That Evening Sun published in 1995.
That Evening Sun Quotes

When Dilsey was sick in her cabin and Nancy was cooking for us, we could see her apron swelling out; that was before father told Jesus to stay away from the house. Jesus was in the kitchen, sitting behind the stove, with his razor scar on his black face like a piece of dirty string. He said it was a watermelon that Nancy had under her dress.

“It never come off of your vine, though,” Nancy said.

“Off of what vine?” Caddy said.

“I can cut down the vine it did come off of,” Jesus said.

“What makes you want to talk like that before these chillen,” Nancy said […]

“I can’t hang around white man's kitchen,” Jesus said. “But white man can hang around mine.”

Related Characters: Quentin Compson (speaker), Nancy (speaker), Caddy Compson (speaker), Jesus (speaker), Mr. Compson, Dilsey
Page Number: 292
Explanation and Analysis:

“You'll leave me alone, to take Nancy home?” mother said. “Is her safety more precious to you than mine!”

“I won’t be long," father said.

“You'll leave these children unprotected, with that Negro about?”

“I'm going too," Caddy said. “Let me go, Father.”

“What would he do with them, if he were unfortunate enough to have them?" father said.

“I want to go, too,” Jason said.

“Jason!” mother said. She was speaking to father. You could tell that by the way she said the name. Like she believed that all day father had been trying to think of doing the thing she wouldn't like the most and that she knew all the time that after a while he would think of it.

Related Characters: Quentin Compson (speaker), Caddy Compson (speaker), Jason Compson (speaker), Mr. Compson (speaker), Mrs. Compson (speaker), Nancy , Jesus
Page Number: 294
Explanation and Analysis:

“Well, he's gone now,” father said.

“There's nothing for you to be afraid of now. And if you'd just let white men alone.”

“Let what white men alone?” Caddy said. “How let them alone?”

“He aint gone nowhere," Nancy said. "I can feel him. I can feel him now, in this lane. He hearing us talk, every word, hid somewhere, waiting. I aint seen him, and I aint going to see him again but once more, with that razor in his mouth. That razor on that string down his back, inside his shirt. And then I aint going to be even surprised.”

Related Characters: Quentin Compson (speaker), Nancy (speaker), Caddy Compson (speaker), Mr. Compson (speaker), Jason Compson, Jesus
Page Number: 294
Explanation and Analysis:

We left her sitting before the fire. “Come and put the bar up,” father said. But she didn't move. She didn't look at us again, sitting quietly there between the lamp and the fire. From some distance down the lane we could look back and see her through the open door. “What, Father?” Caddy said. “What’s going to happen?” “Nothing,” father said. Jason was on father's back, so Jason was the tallest of all of us. We went down into the ditch. I looked at it, quiet. I couldn't see much where the moonlight and the shadows tangled. “If Jesus is hid here, he can see us, cant he?” Caddy said. “He's not there,” father said. “He went away a long time ago.”

Related Characters: Quentin Compson (speaker), Caddy Compson (speaker), Mr. Compson (speaker), Nancy , Jason Compson, Jesus
Related Symbols: The Ditch, Darkness
Page Number: 309
Explanation and Analysis:
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That Evening Sun PDF

Mr. Compson Character Timeline in That Evening Sun

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Compson appears in That Evening Sun. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
That Evening Sun
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...their wives by fetching the clothes for them, but Jesus, Nancy’s husband, never did—“even before” Mr. Compson , Quentin’s father, told Jesus to stay away from the Compson’s property. Jesus never came... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Naivety, Ignorance, and Nostalgia Theme Icon
...she could come and cook their breakfast. They did not cross the ditch however, because Mr. Compson had warned them to stay away from Jesus, who lived with Nancy. He recalls a... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...stays sick for a long time, so Nancy continues to cook for the family, and Mr. Compson tells Jesus to stay away from the house. One evening, after supper, Mrs. Compson remarks... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Naivety, Ignorance, and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...the night, Quentin returns to the library and tells his parents that Nancy is finished. Mr. Compson goes to see what is wrong with Nancy. Caddy suggests that she might be waiting... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Naivety, Ignorance, and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Mr. Compson returns and says that he is going to walk Nancy home because Nancy thinks that... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...she can just get “through the lane,” which is the darkest part of the walk. Mr. Compson asks Nancy if she can stay with Aunt Rachel, who sometimes claims to be Jesus’s... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Naivety, Ignorance, and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
While the children argue, Mr. Compson tries to reassure Nancy that Jesus is gone. Nancy replies that Jesus told her that... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...Mrs. Compson becomes annoyed that she is being “left alone in this big house” while Mr. Compson takes home “a frightened Negro.” Instead of walking Nancy home, the family sets up a... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...Nancy stops making the sound when the children go down and stand with her until Mr. Compson comes back. He brings Nancy’s bed up with him from the kitchen and sets it... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Naivety, Ignorance, and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...Mrs. Compson why Nancy is afraid of Jesus and if Mrs. Compson is afraid of Mr. Compson . Jason starts to cry and says he will only stop crying if Dilsey makes... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Naivety, Ignorance, and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Caddy tells Nancy what Mr. Compson has said and asks what Nancy has done to make Jesus mad. Nancy drops her... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...confused and say that Nancy is talking “like there are five” of them or like Mr. Compson is with them. Nancy calls Jason “Mister Jason,” the way she would Mr. Compson, whose... (full context)
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...unsure what is going on. Caddy goes to the door and says that she sees Mr. Compson coming. Nancy begs Caddy to ask Mr. Compson if she can come and sleep in... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Naivety, Ignorance, and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Mr. Compson enters the cabin and, again, tells Nancy to go and stay with Aunt Rachel. He... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Naivety, Ignorance, and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Giving up, Mr. Compson tells Nancy to lock her door and put out the lamp, but Nancy says she... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Naivety, Ignorance, and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
The children leave with Mr. Compson . Nancy remains sitting by the fire with the door of her cabin open and... (full context)
Racism and Segregation Theme Icon
Naivety, Ignorance, and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Fear and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Caddy asks if Jesus is watching them from the ditch, but Mr. Compson says that Jesus is gone. Jason is sitting on his father’s shoulders and it looks... (full context)