I fooled you all,the time it was me you thought I was in the house where that damn honeysuckle trying not to think the swing the cedars the secret surges the breathing locked drinking the wild breath the the Yes Yes yes
The second section of The Sound and the Fury is told from Quentin Compson’s perspective. Quentin is currently at Harvard, quietly obsessed with the loss of his sister Caddy’s purity. He associates the suffocating smell of honeysuckle with her sexuality.
I could hear her heart going firm and slow now not hammering and the water gurgling among the willows in the dark and waves of honeysuckle coming up the air my arm and shoulder were twisted under me
I thought this was such a smart, beautifully written contrast to the first section where Benjy equates Caddy with the smell of trees. If you’ve ever taken a walk in the South during the summer, you will instantly recognize the heavy and fragrant smell of honeysuckles. It’s an overwhelming smell that mirrors Quentin’s obsession. There’s a lot of discussion out there about whether Quentin actually wanted to sleep with his sister, but what interested me more is the way that Faulkner uses scents to evoke a certain feeling.
damn that honeysuckle I wish it would stop
I started looking into the symbolism of flowers and trees, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite finds with you.
There is a language, little known,
Lovers claim it as their own.
Its symbols smile upon the land,
Wrought by nature’s wondrous hand;
And in their silent beauty speak,
Of life and joy, to those who seek
For Love Divine and sunny hours
In the language of the flowers.
–The Language of Flowers, London, 1875
White Heather – protection and all of your wishes coming true. It was often used to stuff mattresses and thatch roofs, because people believed it would protect them from harm.
Hyacinths – sadness, grief, and asking for forgiveness. Greek Legend has it the Hyacinth was once a boy who was loved by both Apollo and Zephyr, the god of the west wind. Zephyr kills Hyacinth in a jealous rage, and Apollo created the flower out of Hyacinth’s blood. The flower can also represent constancy, sports, and sincerity. Hyacinths always remind me of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland.
Jonquil – In the Victorian era, the Jonquil symbolized a desire to have your affections returned, sympathy, and requited love. The ancient Greeks believed that it was a flower that grew in the Underworld and symbolized the dead.
What are some of your favorite uses of flowers and scents in books that you’ve read? What do your favorite flowers mean?
- Aunty Flo has a great dream dictionary about the symbolism of flowers
- Thoughtful Thinking Thoughts hasn’t updated in a while, but there is a lovely rambly piece about Caddy Compson if you want to read more about her!
- The Sound and the Fury: Caddy Smelled Like Trees
- T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland
- The Myth of Hyacinthus