Tradition’s Grip

Assume you are taking a course at the local university on William Faulkner. The book for study this semester is The Sound and The Fury. This course does not require you to actually read the book. Instead, the information in this class will come exclusively from your professor. To begin the semester, she will be lecturing and instructing you on ‘all things Faulkner.’ She will discuss biographical information, including everything she could find about his personal life. She will give lectures on his writing. There will be discussions about literary criticism given his writings and awards he has won. You will listen to audio recordings of Mr. Faulkner reading passages of The Sound and The Fury. 

As the semester progresses, she will begin to discuss the book. She will tell you about the first time she read it, and what kind of impact it had on her. She will tell you why she decided to teach an entire semester course on this one work of Faulkner’s. You will learn what her expectations and preconceptions were before she even began reading. You will hear all her first impressions. She tells you that she thought it was difficult the first time. There will be lectures on the genre, characters, plot, setting, style and structure, point of view, images, symbols, and themes. She will discuss the reception when first published. She will discuss each part of the novel in detail. She will then tell you how her personal reactions have changed as her understanding has deepened. As the semester winds down, she will end with her explanation of the literary significance of this book. With that, the semester is over.

Shortly after the end of the semester, because of this class and the things you learned, you decide to actually read The Sound and The Fury:
Do you suppose, with your first reading, you could formulate any thought about this book independent of what your professor fed you?
Could you make your own critical evaluations about characters, plot, point of view, themes, or symbolism?
Could the biographical information you learned about Mr. Faulkner be extricated from your psyche in order to have a blank slate from which to assess Mr. Faulkner’s reason for writing this novel?
Could you read this book through your lense?
How much of your professor’s impressions, understanding or analysis would you have to completely discard in order to form your own personal conclusions about this material?
How many times would you have to read it before you began to make your own analysis?
Would the professor’s framework control your first reading?
Could you ever escape from her views to discover your own?

The Lamanites were unable to convert, even when taught the truth, because of the traditions of their fathers which were not correct. (Mosiah 1: 5.)

“Becoming as a little child” is necessary, because children are able to be taught. They are still open. They want to be filled. For such is the kingdom. (Luke 18: 16.) None of the arguments our Lord was required to endure with His fellow-man was ever with a child.