A teenaged Negro boy named Luster spends his Saturday watching after Benjy, a severely retarded descendent of the aristocratic Compson family of Jefferson, Mississippi. It is Benjy's thirty-third birthday. Luster takes him around the Compson property, looking for a quarter that he lost, which he intends to use to buy a ticket to the show that has come to Jefferson that weekend. They wander by the golf course, by the stream branch where Benjy plays in the water, near the swing (where Miss Quentin is lounging with the man with the red tie), and into the house, where Luster's mother Dilsey, the Compsons' cook, is making dinner. Dilsey gives Benjy some birthday cake, after which Luster takes Benjy into the library to play. Jason Compson, Benjy's brother and head of the household, comes in, irritated that Benjy is in his presence. At a tense dinner, Jason is sharp with Miss Quentin, and Mrs.
Compson, Jason and Benjy's mother, is overwhelmed by a highly vocal self-pity.
Time and experience are unstable and off-kilter in Benjy's mind. Everywhere Benjy and Luster travel throughout the day things Benjy sees and hears cause him to re-experience past events in his mind, and he seems to have no clear idea that there is a difference between those past events and his present experience. So when he hears a golfer call for his caddie, Benjy is suddenly back in a scene with his sister Caddy; when he sees the family carriage, he is suddenly a little boy riding in the carriage with his mother. Benjy's flashbacks leap wildly through time, but they tend to revolve around a few specific events and periods in Benjy's life.
On the day Benjy's grandmother Damuddy died, Benjy, a very young...