The Sound and the Fury

Benjamin (Benjy) Compson Character Analysis

The first narrator of the book, a mute, mentally disabled man. Benjy was originally named “Maury” after his uncle, but Caroline changed his name when she discovered his disability. Benjy has no understanding of time, cause and effect, or morality, and experiences life as a muddled blur of sensations. Despite this, Benjy is able to sense things that the other Compsons can’t – he moans when Damuddy dies, and understands the moment that Caddy loses her virginity. The three things Benjy loves most are his sister Caddy, his pasture (which was sold to a golf club), and fire. He was castrated as a teen after trying to talk to a passing schoolgirl about Caddy who had just gotten married; his efforts were perceived as an attack.

Benjamin (Benjy) Compson Quotes in The Sound and the Fury

The The Sound and the Fury quotes below are all either spoken by Benjamin (Benjy) Compson or refer to Benjamin (Benjy) 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 Seventh, 1928 Quotes

Caddy was all wet and muddy behind, and I started to cry and she came and squatted in the water.
“Hush now.” she said. “I’m not going to run away.” So I hushed. Caddy smelled like trees in the rain.

Related Characters: Benjamin (Benjy) Compson (speaker), Candace (Caddy) Compson
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

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“All right.” Versh said. “You the one going to get whipped. I aint.” He went and pushed Caddy up into the tree to the first limb. We watched the muddy bottom of her drawers. Then we couldn’t see her. We could hear the tree thrashing…
“What you seeing.” Frony whispered.
I saw them. Then I saw Caddy, with flowers in her hair, and a long veil like shining wind. Caddy Caddy

Related Characters: Benjamin (Benjy) Compson (speaker), Frony Gibson (speaker), Versh Gibson (speaker), Candace (Caddy) Compson
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

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L

“It’s no joke.” Mother said. “My people are every bit as well born as yours. Just because Maury’s health is bad.”
“Of course.” Father said. “Bad health is the primary reason for all life. Created by disease, within putrefaction, into decay. Versh.”
“Sir.” Versh said behind my chair.
“Take the decanter and fill it.”

Related Characters: Benjamin (Benjy) Compson (speaker), Mr. Compson (speaker), Mrs. Compson (speaker), Versh Gibson (speaker), Maury Bascomb
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

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Caddy and I ran. We ran up the kitchen steps, onto the porch, and Caddy knelt down in the dark and held me… “I wont.” she said. “I wont anymore, ever. Benjy. Benjy.” Then she was crying, and I cried, and we held each other. “Hush.” she said. “Hush. I wont anymore.” So I hushed and Caddy got up and we went into the kitchen and turned the light on and Caddy took the kitchen soap and washed her mouth at the sink, hard. Caddy smelled like trees.
I kept a telling you to stay away from there, Luster said. They sat up in the swing, quick. Quentin had her hands on her hair. He had a red tie.

Related Characters: Benjamin (Benjy) Compson (speaker), Candace (Caddy) Compson (speaker), Luster Gibson (speaker), Quentin Compson, The man in the red tie
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Candace.” Mother said. “I told you not to call him that. It was bad enough when your father insisted on calling you by that silly nickname, and I will not have him called by one. Nicknames are vulgar. Only common people use them. Benjamin.” she said.

Related Characters: Mrs. Compson (speaker), Benjamin (Benjy) Compson, Candace (Caddy) Compson
Page Number: 63-64
Explanation and Analysis:

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Caddy came to the door and stood there, looking at Father and Mother. Her eyes flew at me, and away. I began to cry. It went loud and I got up. Caddy came in and stood with her back to the wall, looking at me. I went toward her, crying, and she shrank against the wall and I saw her eyes and I cried louder and pulled at her dress. She put her hands out but I pulled at her dress. Her eyes ran.

Related Characters: Benjamin (Benjy) Compson (speaker), Candace (Caddy) Compson, Mr. Compson, Mrs. Compson
Page Number: 68-69
Explanation and Analysis:

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June Second, 1910 Quotes

Got to marry somebody
Have there been very many Caddy
I don’t know too many will you look after Benjy and Father
You don’t know whose it is then does he know
Don’t touch me will you look after Benjy and Father

Related Characters: Quentin Compson (speaker), Candace (Caddy) Compson (speaker), Benjamin (Benjy) Compson, Mr. Compson
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

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April Sixth, 1928 Quotes

How the hell can I do anything right, with that dam family and her not making any effort to control her nor any of them like that time when she happened to see one of them kissing Caddy and all next day she went around the house in a black dress and a veil and even Father couldn’t get her to say a word except crying and saying her little daughter was dead and Caddy about fifteen then… I haven’t got much pride, I cant afford it with a kitchen full of niggers to feed and robbing the state asylum of its star freshman. Blood, I says, governors and generals.

Related Characters: Jason Compson IV (speaker), Benjamin (Benjy) Compson, Candace (Caddy) Compson, Mr. Compson, Mrs. Compson
Page Number: 229-230
Explanation and Analysis:

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April Eighth, 1928 Quotes

“I wish you wouldn’t keep on bringin him to church, mammy,” Frony said. “Folks talkin.”
“Whut folks?” Dilsey said.
“I hears em,” Frony said.
“And I knows whut kind of folks,” Dilsey said. “Trash white folks. Dat’s who it is. Thinks he aint good enough fer white church, but nigger church aint good enough fer him.”
“Dey talks, jes de same,” Frony said.
“Den you send um to me,” Dilsey said. “Tell um de good Lawd don’t keer whether he bright er not. Don’t nobody but white trash keer dat.”

Related Characters: Dilsey Gibson (speaker), Frony Gibson (speaker), Benjamin (Benjy) Compson
Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:

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In the midst of the voices and the hands Ben sat, rapt in his sweet blue gaze. Dilsey sat bolt upright beside, crying rigidly and quietly in the annealment and the blood of the remembered Lamb.
As they walked through the bright noon, up the sandy road with the dispersing congregation talking easily again group to group, she continued to weep, unmindful of the talk…
“Whyn’t you quit dat, mammy?” Frony said. “Wid dese people looking. We be passin white folks soon.”
“I’ve seed de first en de last,” Dilsey said. “Never you mind me.”
“First en last whut?” Frony said.
“Never you mind,” Dilsey said. “I seed de beginnin, en now I sees de endin.”

Related Characters: Dilsey Gibson (speaker), Frony Gibson (speaker), Benjamin (Benjy) Compson
Related Symbols: Easter
Page Number: 297
Explanation and Analysis:

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Ben’s voice roared and roared. Queenie moved again, her feet began to clop-clop steadily again, and at once Ben hushed. Luster looked quickly back over his shoulder, then he drove on. 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.

Related Characters: Benjamin (Benjy) Compson, Luster Gibson
Page Number: 320-321
Explanation and Analysis:

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Benjamin (Benjy) Compson Character Timeline in The Sound and the Fury

The timeline below shows where the character Benjamin (Benjy) Compson appears in The Sound and the Fury. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
April Seventh, 1928
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
The narrative opens vaguely and confusingly. The narrator is Benjy, a mentally disabled man whose thirty-third birthday is occurring today, the day before Easter. He... (full context)
Words and Language Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Luster takes Benjy around the Compson property looking for a quarter Luster has lost. The property is next... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Luster and Benjy sneak under a broken part of the fence into the golf course, and Benjy catches... (full context)
Words and Language Theme Icon
In the memory Uncle Maury asks Versh, one of Dilsey’s sons and Benjy’s keeper at the time, to take Benjy outside. Mrs. Compson worries that Benjy will get... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
The story returns to the present, but the memory of Caddy makes Benjy moan again, annoying Luster. He gives Benjy a flower to calm him down, and then... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Back in the present Benjy and Luster walk past the Compsons carriage house, which triggers another memory, this one from... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
...she will be dead soon and then not be such a burden anymore, and then Benjy returns to the present, where Luster is chiding him once again. (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Luster takes Benjy through the Compsons’ barn, and Benjy slips into another memory, twenty-six years earlier. He and... (full context)
Words and Language Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Back in the present, Luster leads Benjy down to the “branch,” the stream that runs through the Compson property. Luster sees some... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Benjy slips back into another memory, this one of the day his grandmother “Damuddy” was buried.... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Back in the present, Luster mentions that Benjy thinks that the pasture is still owned by the Compsons, though they had sold it... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
In this memory, Benjy and T.P. have gotten drunk off some champagne they found in the basement. T.P. thinks... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Benjy then shifts back to the memory of the day of Damuddy’s death, as Versh carried... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...that they listen to her as well. Dilsey serves dinner to the children, but then Benjy starts crying again. Quentin asks if Mrs. Compson was crying earlier, but Dilsey deflects the... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
The smell of Versh’s house brings Benjy into several memories. In 1910, Dilsey sings in the kitchen while Roskus, her husband, says... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Benjy takes a toy from Miss Quentin, who is still very young, and Miss Quentin gets... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Benjy briefly returns to the present, where Luster has found a golf ball, but he won’t... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Benjy then remembers the death of the Compsons’ horse, Nancy, and he thinks about her bones... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Benjy’s memory of Damuddy’s funeral day becomes briefly interspersed with his drunken memory of Caddy’s wedding... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Back on Caddy’s wedding day, Benjy remembers her wedding veil, and T.P. trying to keep him quiet as he drunkenly moans.... (full context)
Words and Language Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
...for her “prissy dress,” and says she is trying to be better than everyone else. Benjy is clearly upset by something about Caddy’s attire, so she tries taking off her hat.... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
...Mr. Compson then fills his decanter of alcohol and leaves. Caddy falls asleep next to Benjy, trying to comfort him. (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Benjy returns to the memory of Damuddy’s funeral, when Caddy is up in the tree. Dilsey... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Back in the present, Luster warns Benjy not to go by the nearby swing, as Miss Quentin is there with her “beau.”... (full context)
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Caddy finally runs away from Charlie with Benjy and they go up to the house. Caddy knows Benjy is upset with her for... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Back in 1928, Benjy approaches the swing and interrupts Miss Quentin and her boyfriend, who is wearing a red... (full context)
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
...to meet them. The man with the red tie is furious and sends Luster and Benjy away. (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Benjy and Luster then walk further down the fence, still looking for golf balls, and when... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Later in the same memory, Benjy slips out the gate and runs after the girls, scaring them. He tries to talk... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...him and refuses to give him a quarter. Then he calls for his caddie, making Benjy moan again. Luster gives Benjy another flower to try and cheer him up. Luster says... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Luster then takes Benjy back to the house, where Dilsey scolds Luster, thinking he has purposefully made Benjy upset,... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Back in the present, Dilsey gives Benjy his birthday cake and lights all thirty-three candles. She is still scolding Luster, and Luster... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
In the present again Benjy reaches his hand into the fire, burns himself, and starts wailing. Dilsey wraps up his... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
The library reminds Benjy of another occasion with Caddy, when they were in the library and Benjy was only... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
...off to bed. Then Caddy and Jason start to fight because Jason has cut up Benjy’s paper dolls. Jason cries and says it was an accident, though it was clearly malicious,... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
In the present, Benjy keeps making noise in the library, and the adult Jason comes in, angry with Benjy... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
...tie. Miss Quentin is clearly not ashamed of her actions, and she argues with Jason. Benjy briefly returns to a memory of Quentin telling his father about a fight he got... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Benjy then remembers an evening around 1909, when Caddy comes home from a date where she... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
...sits down to dinner, and Miss Quentin complains that she doesn’t like living here, as Benjy is like “a pig” and Jason is cruel to her. Jason gets angry and Miss... (full context)
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In between the arguing, Benjy remembers Versh saying that Mrs. Compson changed Benjy’s name because she was too proud, and... (full context)
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Benjy again remembers Caddy smelling like trees, and then back in the present Luster is pleased... (full context)
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Benjy then returns to the night Damuddy died and Caddy got her underwear dirty. Jason tattles... (full context)
June Second, 1910
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This next chapter is narrated by Quentin, Benjy’s brother. Quentin wakes up in his dorm room at Harvard, sees a shadow on the... (full context)
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...a shadow move across the door and thinks about the night of Caddy’s wedding, when Benjy and T.P. were drunk. Quentin goes outside and sees Shreve, who asks him why he... (full context)
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...dialogue keeps returning to the night Caddy lost her virginity, when she came home and Benjy started wailing. Quentin then thinks about the Compsons changing Benjy’s name from Maury. (full context)
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...the water all the time.” He thinks of the weight of two flat-irons, and of Benjy smelling Damuddy’s death. (full context)
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...letters about him, and his invitation to Caddy’s wedding. He remembers how his parents sold Benjy’s pasture to pay for Quentin’s Harvard tuition. Quentin then vaguely muses about his mother’s shallowness... (full context)
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...of her children had turned against her. He thinks of her long complaints about how Benjy’s ailment was a punishment against her, and how only Jason was more Bascomb (her family)... (full context)
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...off the money for his Harvard tuition, but Caddy said she couldn’t – they sold Benjy’s pasture to pay for Quentin’s tuition, so he had to finish his schooling or it... (full context)
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...discovering she had sex with Dalton Ames, and the smell of honeysuckle on her, and Benjy wailing when she came home. (full context)
April Sixth, 1928
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...by Jason Compson, and it begins on the morning of Good Friday, the day before Benjy’s section takes place. Jason is arguing with his mother about Miss Quentin, Jason’s niece. Mrs.... (full context)
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...Mrs. Compson. Jason goes around the house to get his car and encounters Luster and Benjy. He sends them away angrily, ranting to himself about his lazy servants and idiot brother. (full context)
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...inner 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... (full context)
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...convinced Dilsey, but Jason threatened Dilsey if she ever let Caddy see Miss Quentin or Benjy. Dilsey called Jason a “cold man” and thanked God she had more heart than he. (full context)
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...suffers for her children, and Jason mostly ignores her. He then listens to Luster feeding Benjy and rants to himself about all the lazy mouths he has to feed. Jason wants... (full context)
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...probably studying in her room, but Jason suspects she is up to something. Jason hears Benjy snoring, and he thinks about how Benjy was castrated after he attacked the schoolgirls. Jason... (full context)
April Eighth, 1928
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It is Easter Sunday, two days after Jason’s section and one day after Benjy’s. The narrator is now a third-person voice, which begins by following Dilsey. At dawn Dilsey... (full context)
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...has been trying to play the musical saw, and Dilsey orders him to wake up Benjy and get him dressed. Luster keeps delaying in his work – trying to go back... (full context)
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Dilsey serves Benjy his breakfast and treats him with tenderness and sympathy. Jason comes downstairs, angry and sarcastic... (full context)
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Meanwhile Benjy is wailing again, and Dilsey and Luster try to calm him down. Dilsey asks Luster... (full context)
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Luster, Benjy, Dilsey, and Frony walk together to the local black church for an Easter service. Many... (full context)
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...that she has “seen the beginning, and now she sees the ending.” The Gibsons and Benjy return to the Compson house to find Jason still gone. Mrs. Compson is in bed,... (full context)
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Back in Jefferson, Dilsey sends Luster and Benjy outside so they can’t cause any trouble. Benjy starts watching the nearby golfers and moaning... (full context)
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T.P. would usually drive Benjy to the cemetery to comfort him, but T.P. isn’t around today so Luster offers to... (full context)
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At a monument to a Confederate soldier Luster deviates from T.P.’s usual course, and Benjy immediately starts howling at the strange route. At that moment Jason returns, and he runs... (full context)
Appendix: Compson: 1699-1945
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...explains what happened after the novel ends – after Mrs. Compson died, Jason IV sent Benjy to the State Asylum in Jackson and then sold the Compson house to someone who... (full context)
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...waited until the academic year was over to commit suicide because the family had sold Benjy’s pasture to pay for his tuition. (full context)
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...and feared only Dilsey among all other things. It was Jason who secretly made himself Benjy’s guardian and had him castrated after Benjy attacked the schoolgirl. After Mrs. Compson died in... (full context)
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Next is Benjamin, who was born as Maury, named after Uncle Maury who borrowed money from everyone –... (full context)
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...and Luster, who at only 14 was able to fully care for the mentally disabled Benjy. There is only one line about Dilsey: “They endured.” (full context)