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Too Small to Fail: Jason Compson’s Precarious Self-Worth

Too Small to Fail: Jason Compson’s Precarious Self-Worth

Chapter:
(p.110) Too Small to Fail: Jason Compson’s Precarious Self-Worth
Source:
Faulkner and Money
Author(s):
Ted Atkinson
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496822529.003.0008

This essay performs a character analysis of Jason Compson IV in The Sound and the Fury. The main focus is on Jason's inability to confront the reality of impending financial ruin because of heavy investment in the self-styled fantasy that he is a capable financier thwarted by forces beyond his control. Jason's aggrieved disposition and cruelty make him easy to write off as despicable, but understanding his inflated ego as an attempt to compensate for emotional as well as financial losses affords him some measure of sympathy. References to popular economics from the 1930s and to Marx's theory of money as a powerful symbolic currency enhance a psychoanalytic approach to Faulkner's rendering of Jason. The conclusion holds that Faulkner offers a finely observed portrait of the damage done to the individual psyche and to familial and social relations by betting on money as a means of increasing self-worth.

Keywords:   The Sound and the Fury, Jason Compson IV, fantasy, money, self-worth

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