Benjy appeared innocent and straightforward as a child, with long, loose limbs, thick fair hair, and blue eyes that seemed to shine all day long. Yet Benjy was actually selfish and cunning, driving out both parents despite appearing content.
Faulkner writes about Benjy to illustrate what he considers a breakdown of communication; in this section, readers learn that Benjy’s thoughts are chaotic and disorganized.
He was a simple-minded person.
Benjy is a straightforward individual with loose limbs, thick fair hair, blue eyes, and an ever-present smile on his face. His parents believe his appearance and behavior suggest otherwise; their perception may have led them to this conclusion.
No one knows why, but though he lacks intelligence, he possesses an acute sense of smell and vivid memories from the past. Many times these are symbolic in nature, and he uses these symbols to describe things today; when seeing golf balls flying through the air, they often bring back painful memories, like when his castration occurred in 1910; these objects also bring memories associated with crying or sounds that he heard at that time.
Benjy may only possess limited intelligence, yet he manages to perceive things the other Compsons miss like Damuddy’s death and Caddy losing her virginity. Benjy does not conceal his emotions from readers, and thus, they can trust what he tells them.
He can recognize people and their behavior quickly, reacting favorably towards Dilsey and Caddy while being deeply affectionate toward Quentin. Additionally, he recalls the route that the narrator took on prior visits, which helps evaluate other characters.
Benjy’s memories are clouded by his emotional state at the time of recalling them, so much so that they become unrecognizable to him. For instance, when recognizing that the carriage turned left at a monument, he took it as an omen of evil and, therefore, cannot accept how time moves forward (similarly, Quentin saw time).
Benjy takes great care in maintaining his hygiene and strives to keep his clothes clean. In turn, this leads to him frequently shaving his head – likely as part of an attempt to appear more attractive to his girlfriend – showing that Benjy may not be as simple-minded as initially anticipated; his storylines prove enlightening with its powerful, impactful tone on readers of all kinds.
He was a simple-hearted person.
Benjy was an innocent-looking young boy with large, loose limbs and soft, fair hair who always had a smile on his face. His parents believed he had a good heart; they didn’t realize he could neither think nor analyze any complex thoughts, only understanding simple concepts like the fact that his beloved hens were essential components to his daily existence.
Their parents gave him a large sum of money in order to purchase more hens; they did not expect that he would keep all the funds for himself and not give some to his family or help out others with their businesses. When they witnessed how all of it had been kept by him alone, they felt hurt and confused as it hadn’t been divided among anyone else.
They attempted to persuade him to divide up the money with them, but he declined. They were taken aback at his response; they could not understand why he seemed so indifferent and cold towards them.
Soon, Benjy began building more incubator houses and selling eggs throughout the town. Soon, he had become the most successful egg seller there was. Benjy married Florence, who also helped clean his chicken houses. Florence was an individual with thick, heavy legs and non-reflecting grey eyes who did her work effectively and provided her with no difficulty whatsoever. Although Florence wasn’t very pretty herself, she worked very hard and managed her role very effectively.
But Benjy’s parents didn’t take her well. They wanted him to get rid of her, but instead, he refused and insisted on asking them out himself – much to their displeasure! His decision had scared his mother and father, who believed that Benjy might be mentally disturbed, but when he erupted in anger against them, they realized he wasn’t acting in line. When Benjy began shouting, they finally realized he wasn’t working usually or was really upset!
He was a selfish person.
Benjy was an innocent child in the Compson household who stood out due to his large, loose limbs and soft, thick, fair hair on his face, along with his blue eyes and constant smile. His parents thought of him as innocent yet believed he would grow into a respected adult; yet his actions proved otherwise; instead of caring about others as much as himself, his focus lay solely on himself, becoming obsessed with ambition while disregarding family needs, even breaking rules of fraternities that he claimed support of; in many ways Benjy was Franklin opposite in that regard he prioritized purpose over values such as fraternity or congeniality.
Benjy’s primary objective in the first section is reuniting with Caddy. He constantly reminds himself that she is his mother figure and wants her back while at the same time experiencing deep grief and despair – making for a highly challenging character to read about.
Benjy struggles to grasp time throughout this section, recalling events from just years prior but also recalling events that occurred fifteen, twenty, or thirty years before. To add further confusion, Faulkner does not use italics when switching between past and present periods.
As he walks around his home, he encounters various objects and memories that spark his thoughts, such as a gate, a branch, and Dilsey’s house. These remind him of a fire that occurred in 1900 that Luster heard about, as well as their respective romantic relationships at that time – including Caddy.
This scene is integral to the plot because it illustrates Benjy’s perception of himself. In previous conversations, he has been told he is an old idiot who stopped developing mentally in 1898; therefore, he does not believe he can achieve his dreams without Caddy until she departs and begins moaning to try and catch her attention again. During this scene, Benjy moans in order to draw her closer.
He was a cunning person.
Benjy is a thoughtful yet childlike individual living in an environment that can only be understood through his senses. He doesn’t question anything he sees or hears and never hurts anyone, yet his appearance and demeanor mask his cunning nature; large loose limbs with thick fair hair covering his face, as well as blue eyes, make up part of this mask, making him appear vulnerable while concealing his true intention: taking advantage of others.
Scene 43’s cold temperatures bring Benjy back to Christmas 1905 when Caddy gave him some tinsel stars to play with, and this event marks a critical turning point in their relationship – previously, Caddy could wash away any deviation by spraying perfume or kissing her away with kitchen soap, however now she feels guilty for her sin, and this further distances herself from Benjy.
Benjy experiences repeated events and feelings throughout this section. For instance, every time he passes by a gate, he experiences deja vu; even though he is no longer living there himself, it holds deep meaning for him. Caddy constantly comes back into his mind whenever young girls walk by. Benjy attempts to engage them but only ends up scaring them off.
Faulkner uses italics sparingly when switching scenes, suggesting he does not intend to convey that Benjy regards death as something abstract and universal.
Critics have likened Benjy to Christ due to his ability to detect evil but be powerless to address it. He represents Christianity’s failure in modern society: castrated, moaning, and bellowing about world conditions yet only reacting according to their effect on his comfort and pleasure.