(Miss) Quentin

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(Miss) Quentin
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Quentin, (Miss)
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It's not easy to know what to call Yoknapatawpha's one female "Quentin" - of two in The Sound and the Fury and of four altogether on the Compson family tree. She's the daughter of Caddy, but even Caddy seems not to know who her father might be (many readers and even quite a few scholars assume it's Dalton Ames, the man who took Caddy's virginity in that novel, but Caddy tells the other Quentin in the novel that before she married she had "too many" lovers, 115). Caddy named her Quentin in honor of her brother, who committed suicide before his niece was born. The "Appendix Compson" that Faulkner wrote sixteen years later titles her genealogical entry "QUENTIN" (341; her uncle's entry is "QUENTIN III," 331). It also calls her "The last. Fatherless nine months before her birth, nameless at birth and already doomed to be unwed from the instant the dividing egg determined its sex" (341). Our decision to call her "Miss Quentin" might seem too Victorian, given all the 'improprieties' in her behavior, especially her sexual promiscuity. There is reason to think that she is already pregnant before the novel begins: the money she is desperately expecting her mother to send was probably supposed to pay for an abortion. However, her uncle Jason steals that - along with $3000 that Caddy has sent over the years. Between his cruelty and the lovelessness of her grandmother, Quentin grows up without a chance, though also without any of the generosity of spirit that makes her mother such an appealing character. Miss Quentin isn't doomed only to be unwed. On the night before Easter she runs away from a place that has never been a home with a man she has just met. Like her promiscuity and pregnancy, her running away repeats the grim pattern of her mother's life, but the narrator of the "Appendix" measures the distance between the tragedy of Caddy's fate and the emptiness of Miss Quentin's when he ends her section by insisting that "whatever occupation overtook her" would not appear in the glamorous forms that her mother's has taken (342).