Candace Compson

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Candace Compson
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Compson, Candace
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Speaking outside the pages of his art, Faulkner called Caddy Compson his "heart's darling," and The Sound and the Fury his attempt to draw her "picture." It's a very modern portrait, however, defined by her absence everywhere in the novel except in the minds of her three brothers, each of whom attempts to fill the absences at the center of his own life with what he tries to make her represent or (to use the term that is both there and absent in the novel's Shakespearean title) to 'signify.' On her own terms, Caddy almost too good to be believable. During their childhoods she always knows what Benjy is "trying to say" (53). She loves Quentin despite his self-hatred, and as Quentin's long memory of the evening after she loses her virginity makes clear, she would die to save him (149-64). In the midst of her own anguish as an outcast at her father's funeral she sincerely tells Jason she is "sorry" about "that job" (202) - the one her ex-husband had merely promised Jason. Her first spoken words in the novel express her sympathy for the pigs at Christmas, "because one of them got killed today" (4). Her marriage to Herbert Head, whom her mother calls "my Harvard boy" (93), can be seen as her last attempt to win her mother's love. Mrs. Compson dons black to mourn the daughter who she sees kissing a boy and who is henceforth dead to her, and there's no question how destructive Caddy's promiscuity is for her brothers, who each in his own way needs her to remain unchanged. But her sexuality seems to be her attempt to live - though as she tells Quentin about her lovers, "when they touched me I died" (149). As a girl with muddy drawers she climbs that symbolic tree looking for the "party," but Faulkner arranges his ironies so that what she sees instead is a "funeral" (36). He sums this up in the "Appendix Compson" he wrote sixteen years later, where her entry begins "Doomed and knew it" (332). The picture of Caddy displayed in that text is an uncaptioned photograph in a news magazine, of a "cold serene and damned" woman in an expensive car beside a "German staffgeneral" (334). Associating the granddaughter of a Confederate general with a Nazi officer during World War II may be Faulkner's way of linking the antebellum South to another racist aristocracy that will not win the war it started. It is certainly an extreme way to establish how lost she is. In the two early short stories that Quentin narrates, she is a young girl, though both appearances show hints of her sexuality - as you would expect from Quentin. She is mentioned one last time, briefly, in The Mansion: "she disappeared," the narrator says; "nobody knew where" (354).