Рефераты. American Literature books summary

watching the market and deliberately defies his broker's advice by buying

when he should sell. He is rude and spiteful to his boss, which is

certainly not the best way to succeed in business. He buys a car even

though he knows that gasoline gives him headaches. And perhaps the clearest

indication of his bad business sense is the fact that when Quentin steals

his savings in the fourth section, she steals $7000. This is the money that

he has been embezzling from Caddy and Quentin, and Caddy has been sending

him $200 a month for fifteen years. By this point he should have amassed

upwards of $30,000; where did it all go? Even though he thinks of little

else besides money, he is not capable of handling it properly.

Mrs. Compson spends much of the novel telling Jason that he is different

from Quentin and Benjy, that he is a Bascomb at heart. And yet, underneath

the sadism, money-grubbing and isolation, Jason is surprisingly similar to

his brothers. He is just as obsessed with Caddy as they are, and her

sexuality shatters his world just as much as theirs.

Summary of April Eighth, 1928:

The section opens with Dilsey standing on the stoop of her house in her

church clothes, then going back inside to change into her work clothes. It

is raining and gray outside. Dilsey goes into the kitchen and brings some

firewood with her; she can barely walk. She begins to make breakfast and

Mrs. Compson calls her from upstairs; she wants her to fill her hot water

bottle. Dilsey struggles up the stairs to get the hot water bottle, saying

that Luster has overslept after the night's reveries. She goes outside and

calls Luster; he appears from the cellar looking guilty and she tells him

to get some firewood and take care of Benjy. He brings in a huge armful of

firewood and leaves. A while later, Mrs. Compson calls her again, and she

goes out to the stairs. Mrs. Compson wants to know when Luster will be up

to take care of Benjy.

Dilsey begins to slowly climb the stairs again, while Mrs. Compson

inquires whether she had better go down and make breakfast herself. When

Dilsey is halfway up the stairs, Mrs. Compson reveals that Benjy is not

even awake yet, and Dilsey clambers back down. Luster emerges from the

cellar again. She makes him get another armful of wood and go up to tend

Benjy. The clock strikes five times, and Dilsey says "eight o'clock" (274).

Luster appears with Benjy, who is described as big and pale, with white-

blonde hair cut in a child's haircut and pale blue eyes. She sends Luster

up to see if Jason is awake yet; Luster reports that he is up and angry

already because one of the windows in his room is broken. He accuses Luster

of breaking it, but Luster swears he didn't.

Jason and Mrs. Compson come to the table for breakfast. Although Mrs.

Compson usually allows Quentin to sleep in on Sundays, Jason insists that

she come and eat with them now. Dilsey goes upstairs to wake her. Mrs.

Compson tells him that the black servants are all taking the afternoon off

to go to church; the family will have to have a cold lunch. Upstairs Dilsey

calls to Quentin, but receives no answer. Suddenly, Jason springs up and

mounts the stairs, shouting for Quentin. There is still no response and he

comes back down to snatch the key to her room from his mother. He fumbles

at the lock and then finally opens the door. The room is empty. Jason runs

to his own room and begins throwing things out of the closet. Mrs. Compson

looks around Quentin's note for a suicide note, convinced that history is

repeating itself. In his room, Jason finds that his strongbox has been

broken into. He runs to the phone and calls the sheriff, telling him that

he has been robbed, and that he expects the sheriff to get together a posse

of men to help him search for Quentin. He storms out.

Luster comments that he bets Jason beat Quentin and now he is going for the

doctor. Dilsey tells him to take Benjy outside. Luster tells her that he

and Benjy saw Quentin climb out her window and down the pear tree last

night. Dilsey goes back to her cabin and changes into her church clothes

again. She calls for Luster and finds him trying to play a saw like one of

the players did at the show last night. She tells him to get his cap and to

come with her; they meet up with Frony and head to church, Benjy in tow.

Dilsey carries herself with pride among the other blacks, and some of the

children dare each other to touch Benjy. They take their seats as the mass


The sermon will be delivered by a visiting preacher, Reverend Shegog. The

preachers process in, and Reverend Shegog is so slight and nondescript as

to attract no attention. But when he speaks, he holds their attention.

First he speaks without accent "like a white man," describing the

"recollection and the blood of the Lamb," then when this doesn't have much

of an effect, he modulates into black dialect and delivers the same sermon

again, describing the major events of Jesus' life and his resurrection.

When he finishes, Benjy is rapt with attention and Dilsey is quietly

weeping. As the leave the church, she states "I've seed de first en de last

. . . . I seed de beginning, en now I sees de endin" (297).

They return to the house. Dilsey goes up to Mrs. Compson's room and checks

on her; Mrs. Compson, still convinced that Quentin has killed herself, asks

Dilsey to pick up the Bible that has fallen off the bed. Dilsey goes back

downstairs and prepares lunch for the family, commenting that Jason will

not be joining them.

Meanwhile, Jason is in his car driving to the sheriff's. When he gets

there, nobody is prepared to leave as Jason requested. He enters the

station, and the sheriff tells him that he will not help him find Quentin,

because it was her own money she stole and because Jason drove her away.

Jason drives away toward Mottson, the town where the traveling show will be

next. He begins to get a headache and remembers that he has forgotten to

bring any camphor with him. By the time he gets to Mottson he cannot see

very well; he finds two Pullman cars that belong to the show and he enters

one. Inside is an old man, and he asks him where Quentin and her boyfriend

are. The man becomes angry and threatens him with a knife.

Jason hits him on the head and he slumps to the floor. He runs from the

car, and the old man comes out of the car with a hatchet in his hand. They

struggle, and Jason falls to the ground. Some show people haul him to his

feet and push him away. One of the men tells him that Quentin and her

boyfriend aren't there, that they have left town. Jason goes back to his

car and sits down, but he can't see to drive. He calls to some passing

boys, asking if they will drive him back to Jackson for two dollars; they

refuse. He sits a while longer in the car. A black man in overalls comes up

to him and says that he will drive him for four dollars, but Jason refuses,

then eventually acquiesces.

Back at the house, Luster takes Benjy out to his "graveyard," which

consists of two blue glass bottles with jimson weeds sticking out of them.

Luster hides one of the bottles behind his back, and Benjy starts to howl;

Luster puts it back. He takes Benjy by the golf course and they watch the

men playing. When one of them yells "caddie," Benjy begins to cry again.

Frustrated, Luster repeats Caddy's name over and over, making him cry even

louder. Dilsey calls them and they go to her cabin. Dilsey rocks Benjy and

strokes his hair, telling Luster to go get his favorite slipper. When he

begins to cry again, Dilsey asks Luster where T. P. is (T. P. is supposed

to take Benjy to the graveyard as he does every Sunday). Luster tells her

that he can drive the surrey instead of T. P., and she makes him promise to

be good. They put Benjy into the surrey and hand him a flower to hold, and

Luster climbs into the driver's seat.

Dilsey takes the switch away from him and tells him that the horse knows

the way. As soon as they are out of sight of the house, Luster stops the

horse and picks a switch from the bushes along the road, then climbs back

into the driver's seat, carrying himself like royalty. They approach the

square and pass Jason in his car by the side of the road. Luster, carried

away in his pride, turns the horse to the left of the statue in the square

instead of to the right, breaking the pattern that Benjy is used to. Benjy

begins to howl. As his voice gets louder and louder, Jason comes running

and turns the horse around. When the objects they pass begin to go in the

right direction again, Benjy hushes.

Analysis of April Eighth, 1928:

Readers commonly refer to this section of the novel as "Dilsey's section,"

although it is narrated in the third person. Dilsey plays a prominent role

in this section, and even if she does not narrate this section, she serves

a sort of moral lens through which to view the other characters in the

section and, in fact, in the novel as a whole. The section contrasts

Dilsey's slow, patient progress through the day with Jason's irrational

pursuit of Quentin and Mrs. Compson's self-centered flightiness. As we

watch Dilsey slowly climb up the stairs as Mrs. Compson watches to tend to

Benjy, only to discover halfway up that he isn't even awake yet, we begin

to sympathize with this wizened old woman. As we see her tenderly wiping

Benjy's mouth as he eats, we come to see her as the only truly good person

in the book. Even Caddy, the object of Benjy and Quentin's obsessions, was

not as selflessly kind or as reliable as Dilsey. Throughout the course of

the section, she is witness to any number of the Compson family's flaws,

yet she never judges them.

The only statement she makes that resembles a judgement is her concern that

Luster has inherited the "Compson devilment." Instead she stands calmly in

the midst of the chaos of the disintegrating household, patiently bearing

what she is dealt "like cows do in the rain" (272). Unlike any of the

Compson family, Dilsey is capable of extending outside herself and her own

needs. Each of the brothers is selfish in his own way; Benjy because he

cannot take care of himself and relies on her to, Quentin because he is too

wrapped up in his ideals, Jason because of his greed and anger. Mrs.

Compson is even worse, passive-aggressively manipulating the members of the

family as she lies in her sickbed. And Miss Quentin is too troubled and

lonely to sympathize with anyone else. Dilsey, however, in her kindness,

ungrudgingly takes care of each family member with tenderness and respect.

In her selflessness, Dilsey conforms to the Christian ideal of goodness in

self-sacrifice; therefore it is not surprising that the section takes place

on Easter Sunday. This section of the novel resounds with biblical

allusions and symbols and revolves around the sermon delivered by Reverend

Shegog at Dilsey's church. The sermon profoundly affects Dilsey, who leaves

the church in tears. Perhaps this is because the sermon seems to describe

perfectly the disintegrating Compson family. Benjamin is the youngest son

described as being "sold into Egypt" in the Appendix to the novel; here

Shegog lectures on the Israelites who "passed away in Egypt" (295).

Matthews notes that Jason is a "wealthy pauper" (11), fitting Shegog's

description: "wus a rich man: whar he now, O breddren? Wus a po man: whar

he now, O sistuhn?" (295). He has embezzled thousands of dollars from his

sister, yet he lives like a poor man. Even Mrs. Compson, Matthews claims,

is described in Shegog's sermon: "I hears de weepin en de lamentation of de

po mammy widout de salvation en de word of God" (296). Matthews even

suggests that Quentin is implied in the voice of one congregation member

that rises "like bubbles rising in water" (11).

Much has been made of the religious symbolism in this chapter. Aside from

Shegog's sermon there is Benjy's age: he is 33 years old, the age Christ

was when he died. Like Christ, or like a priest, he is celibate. And he

seems to be one of the only "pure" members of the family, incapable of

doing anything evil merely because of his handicaps. But he is not the only

Christlike member of the family. Quentin, the daughter of the woman whose

brother wanted to remember her as both virginal and motherly, has an

unknown father, just as Christ, the son of the Virgin Mary, had no earthly


Like Christ, Quentin suffers a misunderstood and mistreated existence. But

most compelling is the fact of her disappearance on Easter Sunday. Just as

the disciples found Christ's tomb empty, the wrappings from his body

discarded on the floor, Jason opens Quentin's room to find it empty: "the

bed had not been disturbed. On the floor lay a soiled undergarment of cheap

silk a little too pink, from a half open bureau drawer dangled a silk

stocking" (282). If Quentin is a Christ figure, however, she seems to have

a very un-Christlike effect on her family. Whereas the pure and virginal

Christ's disappearance signaled the end of death and the beginning of new

life in heaven, the promiscuous Quentin's disappearance signals the

destruction of her family.

Other elements of the section seem more apocalyptic: there is Shegog's

name, for instance, which sounds much like the Gog and Magog mentioned in

the Book of Revelation. There is the story's preoccupation with the end of

the Compson family: Jason is the last of the Compsons, and he is childless,

his house literally rotting away. And finally there is Dilsey's comment

that she has seen the first and the last, the beginning and the end:

although the meaning of this statement is unclear, she seems to be

discussing the end of the Compson family as well as her life, and perhaps

the end of the world. Dilsey has borne witness to the alpha and the omega

of the Compson family.

Nevertheless, none of this religious symbolism is particularly well-

developed. It is impossible to tell who, if anyone, is the Christ figure in

this Easter story. It is impossible to know what will happen to Quentin, or

if the family will really dissolve as Dilsey seems to think it will. Nor is

it particularly clear why Reverend Shegog's sermon has such an effect on

Dilsey or what his actual message is; he has seen the recollection and the

blood of the Lamb, but why is this important? What should the congregation

do about it? What can they do in order to see this themselves?

The problem with this last section is that it doesn't satisfactorily bring

the story of the Compson family to a close. The reader is left with a

glimpse of the family's psychology and slow demise, but no real answers, no

redemption. We don't know what will happen to the family or its servants:

will Jason send Benjy to Jackson? Will Dilsey die? Will Quentin get away?

John Matthews has pointed out that the story doesn't really end but keeps

repeating itself.

This is partially due to its nature as a stream-of-consciousness

narrative; none of the three brothers' sections is purely chronological,

therefore when the story ends their memories continue on. Matthews claims

that the fourth section does not "[complete] the shape of the fiction's

form" or "retrospectively order" the rest of the book; in fact it does not

have much to do with the first two sections at all (9). The Compson clock

ticks away toward the family's imminent demise, but it chimes the wrong

hours, mangling the metaphor. Reverend Shegog's sermon does not have the

intended effect, so he modifies it and tells it again: it "succeeds because

it is willing to say, and then say again" (12). The story doesn't end; its

loose ends are not tied together. Instead it constantly repeats. Faulkner

himself said that the novel grew because he wrote the story of Caddy once

(Benjy's section), and that didn't work, so he wrote it again (Quentin's

section), but that wasn't enough either, so he wrote it again (Jason's

section), and finally wrote it again (Dilsey's section), and even this

wasn't good enough. The story of Caddy and the Compsons does not end, but

repeats itself eternally in its characters' memories.

The Streetcar Named ”Desire”


Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier Williams in Columbus,

Mississippi, in 1911. Much of his childhood was spent in St. Louis. The

nickname Tennessee' seems to have been pinned on him in college, in

reference to is father's birthplace or his own deep Southern accent, or

maybe both.Descended from an old and prominent Tennessee family, Williams's

fatherworked at a shoe company and was often away from home. Williams lived

with mother, his sister Rose (who would suffer from mental illness and

later undergo a lobotomy), and his maternal grandparents.

At sixteen, Williams won $5 in a national competition for his essay, "Can a

Wife be a Good Sport?," published in Smart Set. The next year he published

his first story in Weird Tales. Soon after, he entered the University of

Missouri, where he wrote his first play. He withdrew from the university

before receiving his degree, and went to work at his father's shoe company.

After entering and dropping out of Washington University, Williams

graduated from the University of Iowa in 1938. He continued to work on

drama, receiving a Rockefeller grant and studying play writing at The New

School in Manhattan. During the early years of World War Two, Williams

worked in Hollywood as a scriptwriter.

In 1944, The Glass Menagerie opened in New York, won the prestigious New

York Critics' Circle Award, and catapulted Williams into the upper echelon

of American playwrights. Two years later, A Streetcar Named Desire cemented

his reputation, garnering another Critics' Circle and adding a Pulitzer

Prize. He would win another Critics' Circle and Pulitzer for Cat on a Hot

Tin Roof in 1955.

Tennessee Williams mined his own life for much of the pathos in his drama.

His most memorable characters (many of them complex females, such as

Blanche DuBois) contain recognizable elements of their author or people

close to him. Alcoholism, depression, thwarted desire, loneliness in search

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