The Sound and the Fury

Dilsey Gibson Character Analysis

The most positive character of the book, the matriarch of the family of Compson servants. She is the only stable force in the lives of the Compson children, and raises them despite Mrs. Compson’s incompetence. She retains the old Southern values like family, courage, and religious faith, but avoids the corruption of the Compsons’ self-absorption. In this she symbolizes Faulkner’s hope for the South.

Dilsey Gibson Quotes in The Sound and the Fury

The The Sound and the Fury quotes below are all either spoken by Dilsey Gibson or refer to Dilsey Gibson. 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.
June Second, 1910 Quotes

That was when I realised that a nigger is not a person so much as a form of behavior; a sort of obverse reflection of the white people he lives among. But I thought at first that I ought to miss having a lot of them around me because I thought that Northerners thought I did, but I didn’t know that I really had missed Roskus and Dilsey and them until that morning in Virginia.

Related Characters: Quentin Compson (speaker), Dilsey Gibson, Roskus Gibson
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

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April Sixth, 1928 Quotes

“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:

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“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:

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“You’s a cold man, Jason, if man you is,” she says. “I thank de Lawd I got mo heart dan dat, even ef hit is black.”
“At least I’m man enough to keep that flour barrel full,” I says. “And if you do that again, you wont be eating out of it either.”

Related Characters: Jason Compson IV (speaker), Dilsey Gibson (speaker)
Page Number: 207-208
Explanation and Analysis:

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April Eighth, 1928 Quotes

“I know you blame me,” Mrs. Compson said, “for letting them off to go to church today.”
“Go where?” Jason said. “Hasn’t that damn show left yet?”
“To church,” Mrs. Compson said. “The darkies are having a special Easter service. I promised Dilsey two weeks ago that they could get off.”
“Which means we’ll eat cold dinner,” Jason said, “or none at all.”

Related Characters: Jason Compson IV (speaker), Mrs. Compson (speaker), Dilsey Gibson
Related Symbols: Easter
Page Number: 279
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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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“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:

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Appendix Quotes

LUSTER. A man, aged 14. Who was not only capable of the complete care and security of an idiot twice his age and three times his size, but could keep him entertained.

DILSEY.
They endured.

Related Characters: Dilsey Gibson, Luster Gibson
Page Number: 343
Explanation and Analysis:

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Dilsey Gibson Character Timeline in The Sound and the Fury

The timeline below shows where the character Dilsey Gibson appears in The Sound and the Fury. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
April Seventh, 1928
Words and Language Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...course, and Benjy moans and cries whenever golfers call for their “caddie.” Luster mentions that Dilsey, his grandmother, baked Benjy a cake for his birthday. Luster decides to earn back his... (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... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...visit the graves of Quentin – Benjy’s brother – and Mr. Compson. T.P., another of Dilsey’s sons, must drive the carriage because Roskus, T.P.’s father and Dilsey’s husband, is paralyzed with... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Mr. Compson warns the children to “mind Dilsey,” but Caddy insists that they listen to her as well. Dilsey serves dinner to 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 that the Compsons are unlucky. Two... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...Quentin, who is still very young, and Miss Quentin gets angry and Benjy cries. Frony, Dilsey’s daughter, scolds Benjy. Roskus keeps talking about bad luck, and says another sign of it... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
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Benjy returns to the memory of Damuddy’s funeral, when Caddy is up in the tree. Dilsey then comes out of the house and pulls Caddy down, scolding the children for being... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
...Benjy follow her, and she says she will make sure Luster gets in trouble with Dilsey. The man in the red tie lights a match for Benjy to play with, but... (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, even though Luster denies it. Benjy... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
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Back in the present, Dilsey gives Benjy his birthday cake and lights all thirty-three candles. She is still scolding Luster,... (full context)
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...the present again Benjy reaches his hand into the fire, burns himself, and starts wailing. Dilsey wraps up his hand and tries to calm him, but then Mrs. Compson appears, complaining... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
...past with greater frequency, though his memories are constantly being interrupted by the argument and Dilsey’s attempts to mediate. (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
...night Damuddy died and Caddy got her underwear dirty. Jason tattles on her again to Dilsey, and Dilsey undresses the children and puts them to bed. She complains that she doesn’t... (full context)
June Second, 1910
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...a black person in it, and he thinks about how he only missed Roskus and Dilsey – and thought of them as real people – after he moved away from home.... (full context)
April Sixth, 1928
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Miss Quentin is with Dilsey in the dining room, and Jason confronts her about skipping school. Quentin tries to argue... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
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Miss Quentin is upset and Dilsey comforts her, promising to protect her, but then Quentin turns her anger on Dilsey and... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
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...to work all his life, and how Benjy, Miss Quentin, his mother, and the Gibsons (Dilsey and her family) are nothing but burdens to him. (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...in the baby Miss Quentin, even though Mrs. Compson had disowned Caddy. In the memory Dilsey accepts that she will raise the baby, as she has raised all the Compson children.... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...still raging about the job at the bank she “stole” from him. Caddy then convinced Dilsey, but Jason threatened Dilsey if she ever let Caddy see Miss Quentin or Benjy. Dilsey... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...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 go to the minstrel show,... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Jason sits down 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.... (full context)
April Eighth, 1928
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
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...one day after Benjy’s. The narrator is now a third-person voice, which begins by following Dilsey. At dawn Dilsey emerges from her cabin and walks up to the Compton house. Mrs.... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...up from the basement, where he 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... (full context)
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Dilsey serves Benjy his breakfast and treats him with tenderness and sympathy. Jason comes downstairs, angry... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Upstairs Dilsey calls gently for Miss Quentin, but there is no response. Jason suddenly understands what has... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Sin and Sexuality Theme Icon
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Meanwhile Benjy is wailing again, and Dilsey and Luster try to calm him down. Dilsey asks Luster about Miss Quentin, and Luster... (full context)
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
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Luster, Benjy, Dilsey, and Frony walk together to the local black church for an Easter service. Many other... (full context)
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...sermon about the suffering and death of Jesus, and his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. Dilsey sits perfectly still during the sermon, tears rolling down her face. (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
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As they leave the church Frony asks Dilsey why she is so upset, but Dilsey only says that she has “seen the beginning,... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
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Back in Jefferson, Dilsey sends Luster and Benjy outside so they can’t cause any trouble. Benjy starts watching the... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
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...comfort him, but T.P. isn’t around today so Luster offers to drive the carriage instead. Dilsey warns him to stick to T.P.’s usual route and be careful, but she lets him... (full context)
Appendix: Compson: 1699-1945
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The librarian next went all the way to Memphis, where she found Dilsey’s house. Frony met her at the door and brought her inside, where Dilsey sat beside... (full context)
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Next comes Jason, who remained a childless bachelor and feared only Dilsey among all other things. It was Jason who secretly made himself Benjy’s guardian and had... (full context)
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...able to fully care for the mentally disabled Benjy. There is only one line about Dilsey: “They endured.” (full context)