The Rise and Fall of the Compsons Portrayed in the Compson Appendix:
Dynamism Seen in the Chains of Loser and Winner

ONO Masako

     "Appendix: Compson: 1699-1945" was written for The Portable Faulkner (1946) fifteen years after the publication of The Sound and the Fury (1929). This very Compson Appendix has been underestimated as an insignificant work. However, by throwing a new light on the Compson Appendix, we readers would have a key to understand the novel more. This is indirectly shown by Faulkner's statement: "I should have done this when I wrote the book. Then the whole thing would have fallen into patter like a jigsaw puzzle when the magician's wand touched it" (Cowley 36). Besides, through this process, we can paradoxically elucidate the reason Faulkner could not have some peace until he wrote an appendix.
     The Compson Appendix is about the story of the rise and fall of the Compsons who fled from Scotland to the United Sates. In order to examine the Compson Appendix, we would like to use two key words: loser and winner (not winner and loser). We would find the dynamism, which exists behind the story of the rise and fall of the Compsons, rise to the surface. Moreover, we would find the abundant content of the Appendix and the theme Faulkner continued to depict throughout his life.
     The first reason for the underestimation of the Compson Appendix is that the Appendix was written fifteen years after the publication of the novel. Although he estimates the Appendix makes clear the lineage of the Compsons and we see in retrospect Faulkner's design, Eric Sundquist disapproves Faulkner and the Appendix, saying ". . . it everywhere clashes with the novel" (4).1 Most of the other critics do not estimate the Appendix very highly even if they do not disapprove of Faulkner as Sundquist does. Among those critics, there are a few who highly estimates the Compson Appendix. It is Mary Jane Dickerson who stresses the importance of the Appendix, saying "The Compson Appendix deserves a place with these works (Absalom, Absalom!, Go Down, Moses, and Requiem for a Nun) as an integral part of the filling in of historical detail and the embodying of the symbolic function of the past through the genealogy of the Compson family" (260). We should pay more attention to her statement. The reason for this is that the Appendix gives us the information about the Compsons' ancestors that we never know about in The Sound and the Fury.
     In The Sound and the Fury, we see the decay of an aristocratic family that once flourished. Faulkner makes clear the situation by describing the stream of consciousness of the Compsons and their figures in July 2, 1910, April 6, April 7, and April 8, 1929. Although they are not completely destroyed, the peak of prosperity of the Compsons is already passed and the whole family is pushing on toward its decay. The beginning of the Compson family is not portrayed in the novel compared to the Snopes whose history was written in the Snopes trilogy. However, every family has its beginning and we readers can realize how the Compsons started in the lineage of the Compson Appendix. In the Appendix, Faulkner designs The Sound and the Fury in a wider background of the history the Compsons. In another word, Faulkner wrote the omega of the history of the Compsons in the novel while he wrote the alpha of the history of the family in the Appendix.
     Then how did Faulkner described the history of the Compsons? I choose "loser and winner" as key words to analyze the genealogy. Before it is possible to enter into a detailed discussion of the Compson Appendix, we must try to clarify our central conception of loser and winner (not winner and loser).
     The reason I chose "loser and winner" as key words to analyze the Appendix can be found in Faulkner's statement in The Faulkner-Cowley File: Letters and Memories, 1944-1962.
Reason for the vital Southern one re the War and no Northern one is, the Northerner had nothing to write about regarding it. He won it. The only clean thing about War is losing it. (Cowley 79)
It is natural to think that victory is valuable because winner is strong and loser is weak. However, Faulkner's statement where defeat is valuable resists such common sense. Thus I chose loser and winner as the key word to observe his novels.
     Then how does Faulkner concretely depict loser and winner in the Compson Appendix? In the quotation above, Faulkner mentions the loser and the winner only the War. Yet, in the Appendix, Faulkner uses "loser" and "winner" with a double meaning. Moreover, loser and winner do not stand in opposition. Based on these assumptions, we would like to define the word "loser" and the word "winner" used in the Appendix.
     Between "loser" and "winner," I will define winner first. The reason for this is it is not difficult to grasp. Faulkner uses the word "winner" with a double meaning: a winner in a war and a winner in life. A winner in a war or those who stood on the winner side almost always become winners in life. Both a winner in a war and a winner in life can get property, status, and honor.
     On the other hand, the word "loser" is also used with a double meaning: one is a loser in a war and another is a loser in life. Sometimes a loser in a war becomes a loser in life. However, in the context of Faulkner works, a loser chooses a variety of lives compared to those of a winner. After they are defeated in a war, almost all the losers in a war are deprived of their property, position, and fame. Nonetheless, not all of them are defeated spiritually. Rather some of them try to score a triumph. In the case of a loser in a life, some escape from the reality and might even take their own lives in despair; others recover from their hopelessness. It is their eager desire that they can get over their despair. The path of a loser's life cannot help becoming more complicated than that of a winner, which is rather simple. Thus a loser needs to be described from various angles.
     We can trace the idea of a loser and a winner to the social standing in England which European immigrants in the U.S. imitated and introduced as their standards in the U.S. In that system, "birth, conferred title, wealth and the nature of that wealth, life-style, occupation, from of land tenure, tenure of positions of authority and legal status" (Wrightson 22) determines the degrees of people in society. We should notice this when we analyze Faulkner's idea of loser and winner.
     Furthermore, I would like to point out the reason I chose "loser and winner," rather than more usual description as "winner and loser." It is because what Faulkner tried to portray was a loser. There are three reasons Faulkner decided to depict a loser. First, Faulkner appreciated defeat more than victory. Secondly, Faulkner is interested in describing the various aspects of a loser. Thirdly, Faulkner had an idea that a person, who had experienced the position of a loser, tried to become a winner. To put it more precisely, Faulkner portrayed the dynamism in human beings, who stirred themselves to fight in another war so that they could win this time. All of these aspects are externalized in the Compson Appendix.
     The title of the Compson Appendix is "APPENDIX COMPSON: 1699-1945." However, it begins with the description of Ikkemotubbe and that of President Andrew Jackson. The former was robbed of their lands by the Compsons; the latter was famous for his subjugation and migration of the Native Americans. This kind of beginning seems to be inadequate for the lineage of the Compsons. Yet this can be justified, seen from the key word, "loser and winner." Ikkemotubbe stands for Native Americans. On the other hand, President Andrew Jackson, who is named "A Great White Father with a sword," (330) symbolizes the whites who conquered Native Americans. In the appendix, Faulkner adopts the real American history. Native Americans used to be winners in the vast North America, enjoying freedom and prosperity. Nevertheless, they were forced to fall as losers when the white settlers from the Old World immigrated to the New World. Among those whites was President Jackson. He stood for these whites, who came to the U.S. without any wealth and yet became a landowner by dispossessing the Native Americans of their lands. In the juxtaposition of Ikkemotubbe and President Jackson we can find the change of rulers in society (nation) as well as the drama of rise and decau of a race. In other words, this is the chain of loser and winner between two different races. Ikkemotubbe was "A dispossessed American king" (329) and he was also deprived of his position as a ruler in the rise of newcomers from Europe. Thus the drama of loser and winner between Ikkemotubbe and President Jackson opened a door to the following story of the rise and fall of the Compsons.
     The subsequent genealogy of the Compsons begins with the first Compson, Quentin MacLachan, and then Charles Stuart, Jason Lycurgus, Governor Quentin MacLachan and Brigadier Jaosn Lycurgus II follow. Jason III and his children, Quentin III, Candace (Caddy), Jason IV, Benjamin, and Caddy's daughter, Quentin are those we are familiar with in The Sound and the Fury. Besides, Faulkner refers to the black servants in the Compson household, TP, Frony, Luster, and Dilsey.
     In the first place, let us look closely at the ancestors of the Compsons described in The Sound and the Fury, who appear just only in the Compson Appendix. The Compsons in the novel comes from Scotland. However, Faulkner does not refer to the very founder of the Compsons. Rather he starts the lineage with the description of Quentin MacLachan, who lost in a war in Scotland and became a fugitive fleeing to the U.S. The reason for his imigration to the U.S. is obvious if we think about it from the key words, "loser and winner." After he was defeated, Quentin MacLachan attempted to resuscitate the Compsons in the New World. Nonetheless, Quentin MacLachan could not establish his settlement in Kentuchy where he first immigrated, because it was already settled by former settlers. It is the third Compson, Jason Lycurgus that could own the land in the U.S. He acquired land symbolizing material prosperity, which signifies that he satisfied one of the conditions of being an aristocrat. It is Governor Quentin MacLachan who gained degrees and honor, which is another condition towards becoming an aristocrat. Quentin MacLachan, who is portrayed as "the last Compson who would not fail at everything he touched save longevity or suicide," (333) gained power in government in Jefferson. He established the central position of the Compsons in the community. Thus the Compsons have become winners in the U.S.
     While the Compsons reached the zenith of their prosperity, the height of their prosperity was also the commencement of the their decay. Brigadier Jason Lycurgus II failed in the Civil War just as the first Compson, Quentin MacLachan had lost in a war. Because of his defeat in the War, he lost some of the Compson Domain which was acquired in three generations. Besides, in forty years till he dies, Jason Lycurgus II continues to keep up the mortgage on the land. During his days, a family from a newly-risen class begins to invade from the backwoods.
. . . after the old town had been burned by the Federal General Smith and the new little town, in time to be populated mainly by the descendants not of Compsons but of Snopese, had begun to encroach and then nibble at and into it. . . .(333)
The chains of loser and winner did not give the Compsons an everlasting stable status. As the Compsons robbed the Ikkemotubbe of their land and built up a reputation and fortune, the Snopes tried to push them aside and take over their position. The notion that losers become winners and then winners become losers again holds in all aspects in the story.
     In the second place, we will consider the Compsons who appear both in The Sound and the Fury and the Appendix. The characterization and fate of the Compsons is the same in the novel and in its appendix, except the fate of Caddy Compson. Here we also observe them in the novel from the perspective of loser and winner as we did about their ancestors.
     When we read The Sound and the Fury, we notice characters have the same names: Father and his son are both Jason; Caddy's brother is Quentin and her daughter is named after him. The point I wish to emphasize here is, however, that it is in the Appendix that we notice how important are those same names. Faulkner was a person who respected his great-grandfather whose name Faulkner shared.2 Faulkner was one of those who thought names had some effect on people. It seems reasonable to suppose that Faulkner intended to use the same names in describing the family in the Appendix. The novelist strived to reconstruct The Sound and the Fury in the lineage of the Compsons where the same names appear more than the novel.
     In the Compson genealogy, the name "Quentin" and the name "Jason" appear no less than four times. In his act of naming, we can comprehend Faulkner's intention to have depicted that the first Quentin's character and fate has an influence on those of other Quentins and the same is true of the Jasons. Those who have the names of Quentin and Jason are in common in fighting their way in to the winner's circle. Nonetheless, they behave different from each other when they are destined to become a loser.
     As to the name "Quentin," Elizabeth M. Kerr points out as follows: "Quentin's name suggests Scott's Quentin Durward and romantic chivalry and its gyneolatry" (Kerr, 43). Thus Quentin's name is categorized as a person who is a restless idealist trying to accomplish his purpose. The first Quentin, Quentin MacLachan, sought after new life opportunies in becoming a winner. The second Quentin, who was named after the first Quentin, became a governor, making the dream of the first Quentin come true. The third Quentin is Quentin III who appears in The Sound and the Fury. In the Compson Appendix, Faulkner describes this Quentin's motive of suicide as follows:
QUENTIN III. Who loved not his sister's body but some concept of Compson honor precariously and he (knew well) only temporarily supported by the minute fragile membrance of her maidenhead . . . he, not God, could by that means cast himself and his sister both into hell, where he could guard her forever and keep her forevermore intact amid the eternal fires. (335-36)
While the two former Quentins continued to live and struggled to win the day, the third Quentin chose the "losing" way of suicide. However, it is the only way Quentin can think of to protect Caddy and protect his ideal world in his mind. One more Quentin is Caddy's daughter. In order to escape from her desperate situations, she took back four thousand dollars from Jason and eloped with her lover, seeking for freedom. It should be concluded, from what has been said above, that four Quentins take a great risk and thus their lives appear to be dynamic even if they are losers.
     In the Compson lineage, Faulkner places four Jasons alternately with four Quentins. This Jason appears as Jason the Argonaute in Greek legend. Jason the Argonaute is replete with the sacrifice of sons because he got married to Medea who was to kill his children (Campbell). Compared to the Quentins, the Jasons are categorized into hard-headed realists, cherishing their wishes in mind. They know their places. Thus their lives appear to be static. The third Jason is a notable example. When he reached the Chickasaw Agency at Okatoba, he became the Agent's clerk and then his partner steadily. At last he owned the land Ikkemotubbe used to have. Jason Lycurgus prepared the way for Quentin MacLachan to be the governor. Another example is Brigadier Jason Lycurgus. Although he had to lose his land, he endured to fight against the Sonpes who were trying to push aside the Compsons.
     The following Jason is Jason III who appears in The Sound and the Fury. His life is also static. He "sat all day long with a decanter of whisky . . . composing (it was said) caustic and satiric eulogies on both his dead and his living fellowtownsmen" (334). Although he flees from reality, he never chooses death. The last Jason is described as "the first sane Compson since before Culloden and (a childless bachelor) hence the last" (342). Because of Caddy's divorce, this Jason IV could not get a job at a bank which was promised in exchange for Caddy's marriage. In order to pay off a score, he embezzled money Caddy sent to her daughter. This kind of act symbolizes his similar realistic and enduring disposition to the other Jasons. Besides he stays at the Compson Household, "not only fended off and held his own with Compsons but competed and held his own with the Snopeses who took over the little town following the turn of the century as the Compsons and Sartorises and their ilk faded from it" (343). When even realistic Jason IV cannot survive, the Compsons cannot help facing their collapse.
     We have observed the Quentins and Jasons in the Compson Appendix. This will lead us further into a consideration of those who have different names: Charles Stuart, Candace (Caddy), and Benjamin (Benjy). The name, Charles, is derived from a Germanic word which means "man" (Campbell). Candace alludes to a queen of Ethiopia who invaded Egypt (McHaney 33). The name, Benjamin, is derived from the Bible. His mother died shortly after his birth (McHaney 33). What is common among those three is that they could not help but leave the Compson household or they were expelled from it. In a way, more than the Quentins and Jasons, Charles Stuart, Caddy, and Benjy symbolize the chains of losers and winners. The reason for this is that they were given another chance to start again when they were forced to go out of the house. In other words, we find the chains of losers and winners not only within the text but also outside the texts of The Sound and the Fury and the Compson Appendix. Charles Stuart had to leave his home when he risked "not only his neck but the security of his family and the very integrity of the name he would leave behind him" (331) by forming a plot to secede the whole Mississippi Valley. Moreover, he was exiled from the U.S. "due not to the treason but to his having been so vocal and vociferant in the conduct of it" (331). Out of the mouth comes evil. However, since Faulkner leaves his whereabouts unknown, we can imagine Charles Stuart might have found a new family somewhere. In other words, it is natural for us to think that Charles Stuart might succeed in another story, which Faulkner did not write. In the Appendix, Benjy, who had been castrated, was sent to the State Asylum by Jason. Since the State Asylum was isolated from society, Benjy can be considered to have experienced a similar situation as Charles Stuart.
     According to the Appendix, Faulkner's "heart's darling" Caddy is another one in the chains of losers and winners. After she was divorced by Herbert, Caddy married a minor moving picture magnate in California. However, the marriage broken up and she was divorced again in Mexico. After her second divorce, Caddy went to Europe and her whereabouts are unknown just as Charles Stuart's whereabouts are unknown. Thus Caddy seems to be another loser that Faulkner depicted.
     Then should we think that Caddy remains a loser? The answer is no. At least, she became a winner once when she became a mistress of one of Hitler's general staff. Since Caddy could experience the luxurious life in Europe thanks to her lover, it is no exaggeration to say that Caddy could acquire a chance to become a winner once she left theU.S. While her ancestors came to the New World to lay the foundation, Caddy went back to the Old World in order to stand on the winner side in another society. If we assume that she is also a candidate to tell a new story of the rise, we can say that she could realize her dream of getting wealth in Europe.
     Yet Faulkner did not free Caddy from his chains of losers and winners. Caddy could not continue to enjoy her prosperity. It is clear from the fact that the Nazis lost in the Second World War. Her prosperity must have come to an end with the ruin of Hitler's Germany. Besides, she must have been placed in a position of a criminal in the war. As a result, Caddy's life in the Appendix appears to be more tragic than that of Caddy in The Sound and the Fury where Caddy is described, leading a life of just a divorced woman and a mother who cannot meet her daughter. Miserable as she seems to be, however, Faulkner did not get Caddy back from the hands of the Nazis before she was driven into that situation. The reason for this is that Faulkner thought it the best way, because "If she were resurrected there'd be something a little shabby, a little anti-climactic about it, about this. Her tragedy to me is the best I could do with it" (FU 1). The novelist did not like the simple happy ending pattern where a loser becomes a winner.
     What makes Faulkner avoid this easygoing ending? One of the keys to solve this question originates from Faulkner's recognition that there is a family who is likely to repeat the same patterns, especially failures. Faulkner's family is one of those examples because they always failed in wars. When Faulkner was asked about his duty in the Royal Air Force during the World War I and asked why he had not joined the American Army, he replied as follows: "Well, my people were Scottish. They fought on the wrong side, and they came into America, into Carolina, and my grandfather chose the wrong side again in 1861, and I thought that if I ever joined the American Army. . .(undecipherable)" (LG 101). That is to say, Faulkner's insight into his own family and his own experience warned the novelist not to delineate the lives of people in a linear movement from a loser to a winner.
     Here arises one question: Given that a loser begins to decline as soon as he or she becomes a winner, in the description of Caddy, did Faulkner try to describe human beings who just go to ruin, never to be saved? As to this, it seems likely that Faulkner avoided her tragic death as a loser. In the Appendix, Faulkner wrote that Caddy was seen in Paris and disappeared there. On the other hand, there arises another question : Why Faulkner chooses Paris as the last place where Caddy was seen? An interview with Loic Bouvard seems to offer its answer. In this interview, Faulkner said, "I love France and the French people very much. I feel at ease in France."(LG 72) Faulkner chose Paris because France gave rise to the declaration of human rights and the spirit of freedom. We may say that Faulkner might have thought of Paris as being an appropriate place for his dearest Caddy. Since nothing more is heard of Caddy, we are allowed to imagine her to become a winner again somewhere. In other words, Faulkner suggests that the chains of losers and winners continue outside of the novel and its appendix.
     For Faulkner the novelist, the chains of losers and winners had been one of the themes to write about. During his life, he portrayed a family who climbs all the way up into the seat of power and wealth, and then they also begin to climb down the slope to the fall of a family, driven out by a new rising family. Creating his works, Faulkner tried to relate the strong desire of a loser to win that caused the rise and fall of a family. The very desire impelled a loser to act in search of triumph and thus generate the cycle of rise and fall. The chains of rise and fall of a family can be produced from the struggle of a loser who is eager for victory. Therefore what Faulkner portrayed was not just a story of the rise and fall of a family but a driving force in people's mind that impels people to win; Faulkner described not a straight line from the beginning to the end but a recurrent pattern of rise and fall. Faulkner's vision of dynamism inherent in many people is incarnated in a passage of Faulkner's famous address upon receiving in Nobel Prize for Literature, "I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail" (ESPL 120). This is a message from Faulkner to encourage those who are striving to be a winner or those who are destined to lose not to give up their endeavor to succeed.
     In his earlier works, Faulkner did not convey this encouraging message about the strength of human beings clearly in the description of characters and in the plot. In The Sound and the Fury, we just grasp Faulkner's admiration for those who can endure in the characterization of Dilsey. Although the belief that human beings can endure and then prevail was latent in the novel, it was not revealed so that everyone could comprehend it easily. The reason for this is that the plot is about the rise and fall of the Compsons. Therefore Faulkner tried again to recapture the novel in the Compson Appendix, laying stress on the endurance of human beings to carry the day. As a result, Faulkner could succeed in portraying the Compson family who are also striving to become winners. The dynamism to drive the Compsons to win is brought out clearly in the Appendix. Thus Faulkner was relieved when he finished writing the Compson Appendix and felt that "The whole thing would have fallen into pattern like a jigsaw puzzle when the magician's wand touched it" (Cowley 36).
     In a way, the Compson Appendix is the alpha Faulkner gave to The Sound and the Fury, the role of the omega for the Compson lineage. When he succeeded in grasping the Compsons in the frame of the alpha and omega, he was relieved. Since he had just described the last days of the Compsons, Faulkner felt it necessary to write the roots of the Compsons in the Appendix. Therefore we can safely state that the Compson Appendix assumes the role of fons et origo for The Sound and the Fury. Moreover, if we assume that people's endurance to triumph is Faulkner's theme for portraying his characters, the key word, that of the chains of losers and winners, that we find in the Appendix, must become the one to interpret not only The Sound and the Fury but also Faulkner's other novels. Then the Compson Appendix is one of the original places where we should begin when we ask for a guide to understand the world of Faulkner works.


1 Sundquist criticizes the Compson Appendix and Faulkner for what he said about the Appendix.
2 F.L.Karl supposes that Faulkner must have added "u" in his real name, Falkner, because Faulkner would like to differentiate him from his father in particular and make him a hero like old Colonel Faulkner. Karl 18.


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