Jason Compson IV

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Jason Compson IV
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Compson, Jason IV
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In "Appendix Compson" Faulkner calls Jason the one "sane" male Compson (338). Readers of The Sound and the Fury, aware of his extraordinary mental cruelty to his siblings and his niece, not to mention his bigotries and venalities, are likely to use an even harsher term. But if we set his story in the context of the past that matters most in this novel, the Freudian landscape of compulsions and projections, it seems more accurate to say that Jason is as much the victim of his childhood as any of those siblings. Nearly everything he does during his section repeats the script that was laid down for him by that childhood, from following his niece around in the same way his mother had made him follow his sister years earlier, to locking up the money he embezzles from his niece and counting it every day at least once as a subsitute for the job he'd 'lost' years earlier in Herbert Head's bank, though he never had that job to begin with. Jason' day as a thirty-five-year-old adult begins with him in his mother's bedroom, and though he gets as far from home during that day as Ab Russell's farm half a dozen miles from Jefferson, he never breaks free from his mother's field of gravity. He sees his role as trying "to protect my own Mother" and "holding on to what little we have left" (206), though what he's trying to protect either never existed to begin with, or is already gone. Or is going - the irony of Jason's story is that for him Easter morning means the box in which he'd hoarded that money is 'empty.' This recalls the New Testament and the empty tomb, with all the difference in a world where only Dilsey and her fellow congregants can find redemption. Jason spends Easter "passing churches" "from time to time," "carrying ancient wounds" to a battle he's already lost, chasing after the purely material money that was supposed to give his life a larger significance (306). Through it all, however, Jason's meanness of spirit equips him for modernity in a way that his siblings aren't, and although he never gets away from Jefferson, in the later fictions he does find a purely material place in it, selling the Compson estate and setting himself up as a cotton broker. As the "Appendix" notes, he even "competes and holds his own with the Snopeses who took over the little town" (338). Or almost. The Mansion makes him out to be as underhanded as Flem, but when he tries to outmaneuver Flem in a real estate deal he ends up losing again.