Faulkner's Style

stream-of-consciousness: uses various techniques to represent the consciousness of a character or characters.  It is associative in character.  It suggests the following:
  • That internal human mental and emotional processes are significant, perhaps even more so than external activity.
  • That this is a disjointed, even illogical, existence.
  • That because it is associative, it follows a seemingly random pattern of free psychological images and emotions.

(taken from Harmon and Holman, 7th edition.)

How does Faulkner use a quasi-stream of consciousness style to represent the struggle and determination of Ike to uncover, resist, and reject the sins of his ancestors?

WB01643_.gif (3601 bytes)

Faulkner's Use of the Sentence

  1. The long sentence is built up through colons, semicolons, dashes, and parentheses.
  2. The vocabulary evokes an older morality and a realm of high romance.
  3. The allusions are to romantic episodes in history and literature.
  4. The sentence employs a negative or series of negatives followed by a positive.
  5. Synonyms are built up through repetition.
  6. Words often have a symbolic or poetic extension.
  7. The passage reaches out for metaphors or similes which may be foreign to the vehicle from which they originate.
  8. The sentence often breaks with standard grammatical forms; sometimes solecisims.
  9. Paradox is often present.
  10. Adjectives are piled up.
  11. Two words often merge into one.
  12. A generous use of hyphenated words.

As William Van O'Connor notes, "For Faulkner the chief unit is the sentence."

[Taken from O'Connor, William Van, "Style and Meaning in Faulkner's Work."]

A Few Other Observations

  • Faulkner seeks to be comprehensive, not only in his use of history, setting, and characterization, but also in his themes, symbols, and emotions.
  • He layers his associations so that one is not sure where to stop or pause.  Everything is connected with everything.
  • His style gives us a sense that psychological time, as well as the time inherent in cultural heritage, is more condensed than historical time.

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding