Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Munson Deats, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Suzanne H. Stein, Ph.D.


hush, silence, musicality, bells, “trying to say”


The Sound and the Fury is a noisy book. Through the audible, the barely audible, and the silence, William Faulkner supports his narrative design with sound beyond dialog to inform and inflect the destabilizing narrative voices. This essay explores Faulkner's use of the sound and noise of the novel as another narrative voice. Faulkner's rich use of sound as a recurring motif, almost a persona or narrator itself, functions not merely to animate the action, the characters, and the title; it also speaks in the "hush" and the freighted "stiffly sibilant" whispers of those who dare not speak, or are "trying to say," while simultaneously running as a voiceless current beneath the disjunctive narrative. The range and quality of sound wavers throughout, from the musical to the "indescribable," as the past and present repeatedly segue forward and back to this soundtrack. Like the otherworldly racket of Macbeth, the noise of the novel plays beneath the surface, begging to be heard.

Much scholarship has been devoted to exploring Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, yet the text continues to reveal layers of meaning and resonance to yet another generation. This study seeks to interrogate the nature, function, and musicality of the sound, noise, and silence of the text as adumbrated in the rhetoric of Reverend Shegog's Easter sermon, Luster's valiant attempts to play on the saw the "inaudible tune," the ubiquitous bells, and Dilsey's determination through it all to sing. This study hopes to enter into the conversation on Faulkner's enduring work by listening to what the text is "trying to say."