Compson Inset: Pear Tree (Location Key)


This is the tree that Benjy Compson refers to as "the flower tree" (3). Faulkner himself referred to it often as the setting for the image with which The Sound and the Fury first took hold of his imagination: as he told an audience at the University of Virginia, for example, the novel "began with the - the picture of the - the little girl's muddy drawers, climbing that tree to look in the parlor window with her brothers that didn't have the courage to climb the tree waiting to see what she saw." Benjy remembers watching Caddy climb up "that tree" in 1898 and ends his day in 1927 watching Caddy's daughter climb down it for the last time (39, 74). In the novel's fourth section the narrator describes it as a "pear tree" growing "close against the house"; in April it is "in bloom," and the breeze carries "the forlorn scent of the blossoms" through the open window of Miss Quentin's room and into the house (282). When Faulkner wrote the novel he almost certainly wanted readers to associate this tree with both the Tree in the garden of Eden (Versh reminds Caddy that "your paw" - the father - "told you to stay out of that tree," but as Caddy replies, "That was a long time ago," 39), and the Cross that Reverend Shegog refers to in his Easter sermon as one of "the sacred trees" at Calvary (296). But when Faulkner wrote the "Appendix" to the novel about sixteen years later, he sacrifices this symbolic context: Caddy's climb up the tree isn't mentioned there, and four times in the short text he notes that what Miss Quentin climbed down was a "rainpipe" (335, 338, 341, 342).

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Compson Inset: Pear Tree
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Compson Inset: Pear Tree