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The Gun and the PenHemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and the Fiction of Mobilization$
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Keith Gandal

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195338911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195338911.001.0001

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The Sound and the Fury and Military Rejects

The Sound and the Fury and Military Rejects

The Feebleminded and the Postmobilization Erotic Triangle

Chapter:
(p.151) 5 The Sound and the Fury and Military Rejects
Source:
The Gun and the Pen
Author(s):

Keith Gandal (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195338911.003.0005

This chapter takes up Faulkner's famous novel The Sound and the Fury. Again missing a crucial connection to the mobilization, critics have failed to understand Benjy as having been shaped by the extraordinary attention given to the problem of the feebleminded during the war: the army's intelligence testing was initially instituted to eliminate “mental defectives.” Although Fitzgerald and Hemingway's novels focus on ethnic Americans who have experienced nondiscriminatory opportunity (as well as subsequent backlash), Sound switches the focus to Anglos who don't qualify or are losing the competition in the context of a rising meritocracy. (Faulkner was one such real-life Anglo who was rejected by the army.) Idiot Anglo Benjy is the opposite of talented ethnic Gatsby. The chapter also discusses the love triangle among promiscuous Caddy, her lover Dalton Ames (a returning soldier), and her brother Quentin (a romantic, emasculated Anglo figure who is awed by Ames). The chapter finishes with a discussion of the novel's portrayal of African Americans, Jewish Americans, and Italian Americans, and discusses the portrayal of the last group in terms of the postwar exploitation of the intelligence test results by immigration restrictionists.

Keywords:   feebleminded, idiot, immigration restriction, intelligence testing, Caddy, Quentin, Benjy, Jason, Dalton Ames, homosexual

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