The Sound and the Fury

The oldest Compson child and the novel’s second narrator, Quentin is close with his father and Caddy. He feels the constant burden of his family’s past greatness and its present decline. This turns into an obsession with time and his place within it, and Quentin carries his grandfather’s watch everywhere. He also connects Caddy’s promiscuity with the loss of the family honor. There is implied sexual tension between Quentin and Caddy, and he is certainly very possessive of her sexuality and “honor.” Quentin is intelligent and sensitive, but he is never able to protect (or influence) Caddy or act on his ideas – like his suicide pact with Caddy or his attempt to attack Dalton Ames – except in his suicide.

Quentin Compson Quotes in The Sound and the Fury

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

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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June Second, 1910 Quotes

When the shadow of the sash appeared on the curtains it was between seven and eight oclock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather’s and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire… I give it to you not that may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it.

Related Characters: Quentin Compson (speaker), Mr. Compson (speaker), Mr. Compson
Related Symbols: Quentin’s Watch, Shadows
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

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In the South you are ashamed of being a virgin. Boys. Men. They lie about it. Because it means less to women, Father said. He said it was men invented virginity not women… and I said, Why couldn’t it have been me and not her who is unvirgin and he said, That’s why that’s sad too; nothing is even worth the changing of it, and Shreve said if he’s got better sense than to chase after the dirty little sluts and I said Did you ever have a sister? Did you? Did you?

Related Characters: Quentin Compson (speaker), Mr. Compson (speaker), Shreve (speaker), Candace (Caddy) Compson
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

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I went to the dresser and took up my watch, with the face still down. I tapped the crystal on the corner of the dresser and caught the fragments of glass in my hand and put them into the ashtray and twisted the hands off and put them in the tray. The watch ticked on.

Related Characters: Quentin Compson (speaker)
Related Symbols: Quentin’s Watch
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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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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Listen no good taking it so hard its not your fault kid it would have been some other fellow
Did you ever have a sister did you
No but theyre all bitches
I hit him my open hand beat the impulse to shut it to his face his hand moved as fast as mine the cigarette went over the rail I swung the other hand he caught it too before the cigarette reached the water he held both my wrists in the same hand

Related Characters: Quentin Compson (speaker), Dalton Ames (speaker)
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

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April Sixth, 1928 Quotes

“When they began to sell the land to send Quentin to Harvard I told your father that he must make an equal provision for you. Then when Herbert offered to take you into the bank I said, Jason is provided for now, and when all the expense began to pile up and I was forced to sell our furniture and the rest of the pasture, I wrote her at once because I said she will realise that she and Quentin have had their share and part of Jason’s too and that it depends on her now to compensate him… You were right to reproach me.”
“Do you think I need any man’s help to stand on my feet?” I says. “Let alone a woman that cant name the father of her own child.”

Related Characters: Jason Compson IV (speaker), Mrs. Compson (speaker), Quentin Compson, Candace (Caddy) Compson, Mr. Compson, Herbert Head
Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Quentin Compson Character Timeline in The Sound and the Fury

The timeline below shows where the character 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
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Decline and Corruption Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...and his mother are riding in the Compsons’ carriage to go visit the graves of Quentin – Benjy’s brother – and Mr. Compson. T.P., another of Dilsey’s sons, must drive the... (full context)
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...was buried. Benjy is only three and the family has not discovered his disability yet. Quentin, Caddy, Jason, and Benjy are all playing together in the branch and being watched by... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
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...returns to the memory, in which the children head home from the branch. Caddy and Quentin worry that Jason will tattle to their parents about their wet clothes, and they will... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
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...run across the yard. Benjy’s narration is even more muddled than normal, and he watches Quentin fighting with T.P. Quentin beats him up, but T.P. can’t stop laughing. Benjy starts crying... (full context)
Time, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
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...The children meet Mr. Compson at the house, and Jason immediately tattles to him about Quentin and Caddy’s wet clothes. Mr. Compson says that the children have to eat in the... (full context)
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...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 question. Quentin presses on,... (full context)
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...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 name. (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, Dilsey’s... (full context)
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...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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...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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...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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...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)
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... (full context)
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Quentin hears his roommate Shreve get up, and Quentin briefly gets up and then gets back... (full context)
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Shreve then appears in the doorway and interrupts Quentin’s musing. Shreve reminds him that the bell for chapel will ring in two minutes, and... (full context)
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Quentin watches Spoade, a confident, nonchalant senior who is always late to chapel, and remembers how... (full context)
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A sparrow lands on Quentin’s windowsill and seems to listen with him as the hour chimes strike. Quentin then remembers... (full context)
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Quentin suddenly breaks his watch against the corner of his dresser, shattering the glass and then... (full context)
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Quentin puts the key to his trunk and two notes into an envelope, and then seals... (full context)
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Quentin then goes to a store and has breakfast, and buys a cigar. He goes back... (full context)
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Quentin then thinks of his father saying that “clocks slay time,” that as long as time... (full context)
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Quentin watches a car go by with a black person in it, and he thinks about... (full context)
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In between his other musings and memories, Quentin’s inner dialogue keeps returning to the night Caddy lost her virginity, when she came home... (full context)
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The train stops by a bridge across the harbor and Quentin gets off. He walks onto the bridge and looks down at the water. He thinks... (full context)
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Quentin then sees Gerald Bland, a wealthy, swaggering Harvard student, rowing a crew shell across the... (full context)
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Quentin’s memory then shifts through a confusing series of memories about Herbert Head and Mrs. Compson’s... (full context)
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Quentin finds Deacon, the black man he was looking for earlier. Deacon has lived around Harvard... (full context)
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Quentin then remembers his mother saying that Jason was the only child close to her, and... (full context)
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Quentin gets on a trolley, still thinking vaguely about time, and he gets off around lunchtime.... (full context)
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In the memory Herbert keeps offering Quentin a cigar, and talks about how he is giving Jason a job at a bank,... (full context)
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Quentin then remembers talking to Caddy before her wedding. Caddy says she is sick, and Quentin... (full context)
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Quentin thinks again about virginity, and about Mr. Compson saying that Quentin was only upset with... (full context)
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Quentin walks onto a bridge again, looking into the water and thinking about drowning, shadows, and... (full context)
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Quentin then remembers trying to convince Caddy not to marry Herbert Head, and telling her about... (full context)
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Back in the present, Quentin goes into a bakery and meets a little Italian girl there. The girl doesn’t speak,... (full context)
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As he walks, Quentin thinks about the smell of honeysuckle and more about Caddy, particularly one time Quentin slapped... (full context)
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A police marshal catches up with them and arrests Quentin, as Julio has accused him of kidnapping his sister. Quentin is taken to the squire... (full context)
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Mrs. Bland takes Quentin in her car along with the other boys, and she scolds him as they drive.... (full context)
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Quentin remembers desperately offering to kill himself if Caddy would kill herself too, and talking about... (full context)
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Quentin then remembers confronting Dalton Ames and ordering him to leave town. Dalton Ames is totally... (full context)
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The narrative returns to the present, where Shreve and Spoade are tending to a wounded Quentin on the side of the road somewhere – earlier on the car ride Quentin asked... (full context)
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Quentin tells Shreve and Spoade to go on without him, and they take a trolley back... (full context)
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Quentin thinks about his family and his parents’ pride in their bloodlines, and he thinks about... (full context)
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A bell sounds again, and Quentin puts on his vest and puts his watch into Shreve’s desk drawer. Then he brushes... (full context)
April Sixth, 1928
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...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 says... (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 and... (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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...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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...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 him. (full context)
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Jason is still bitter that Mr. Compson never sent him to Harvard like his brother Quentin, and Jason remembers when his father died. In the memory Uncle Maury comforts the mourning... (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 will... (full context)
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...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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...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 she... (full context)
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...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 present,... (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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...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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...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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...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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...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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...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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...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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...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 Quentin... (full context)
April Eighth, 1928
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...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 from... (full context)
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...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 the... (full context)
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...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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...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 furious... (full context)
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...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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...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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...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 not... (full context)
Appendix: Compson: 1699-1945
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...of the Compson property to the golf club to pay for Caddy’s lavish wedding and Quentin’s Harvard tuition. (full context)
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The list continues with the characters of the novel: Quentin III, who was obsessed with the concept of Compson honor as symbolized by his sister... (full context)
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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. She... (full context)