This is the first hint of Benjy’s mental condition. His character is based on Edwin Dial Chandler, a boy with Down syndrome who lived just three blocks away from the young William Faulkner in his home town of Oxford, Mississippi. He had the mental age of a child between three and seven years old though, unlike Benjy, he was able to talk. He was also a skilled baseball player and William and his brother John would sometimes play with him on their way home from school. Other children were less companionable and derived a good deal of entertainment from tormenting Edwin. These acts of childish cruelty appalled Faulkner and no doubt informed his sensitive portrayal of Benjy.
It is notable that Benjy’s age is the same as that of Christ at the time of his crucifixion. Many scholars have seen parallels with the son of God.