Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2014

Department 1



Over the course of this thesis the author considers the problem of truth in life as manifested in William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury by means of the Nietzschean conception of the Dionysian. The examination unfolds in a sequential analysis of the novel’s four sections, an analysis framed by Nietzsche’s four theses on “‘Reason’ in Philosophy:” the author considers the first section (Ben) symbolic of man’s subversion to what is directly before his eyes, and yet discovers in Ben’s idiocy a refutation of that same apparent reality in a presently-realized past, personified in Ben’s sister, Caddy; the bounds and liberties of perspective realized, the author considers how in the second section (Quentin) the limits and illusions of perspective defy rationality, and turn cultural truths into the heralds of their own apparent destruction yet aesthetic apotheosis; in the third section (Jason), the author discovers the hollow core of Jason’s morality, and ultimately recognizes in the final brother’s illusions and rationalities a meaningless martyrdom of a present believed by Jason to be denied him by the past; the author ultimately discovers what meaning the three brothers’ perspectives signify—namely, Pandora’s solace—in the novel’s blacks—specifically, Dilsey—before confronting the nihilistic implications of Ben’s recurring agony and bliss in the novel’s torturous final scene. The author concludes that the ultimate depravity of the novel, when considered the effect of the artist’s journey through the brothers’ purely perspectival realities, renders both truth and appearance moot in the fruitfulness, agony, and destruction of life. This allows the author not to deprive The Sound and the Fury of its depths of experience, but actually celebrate those depths as the necessary effect of life within a culture hostile to life.


English Honors Thesis