Course Hero. "The Sound and the Fury Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Mar. 2017. Web. 19 Sep. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Sound-and-the-Fury/>.
Course Hero. (2017, March 13). The Sound and the Fury Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 19, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Sound-and-the-Fury/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "The Sound and the Fury Study Guide." March 13, 2017. Accessed September 19, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Sound-and-the-Fury/.
Course Hero, "The Sound and the Fury Study Guide," March 13, 2017, accessed September 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Sound-and-the-Fury/.
Written by William Faulkner in 1945, 16 years after The Sound and the Fury was initially published, the Appendix first appeared with the novel in the 1946 Modern Library edition, at the front of the book. Critic Philip Cohen called it "a superb extended genealogy" of the Compsons that is also relevant to other works by the author. It traces the fictional family from 1699 to 1945, revealing what happens to Benjy, Caddy, and other characters.
The first two entries in the Appendix give information about the Mississippi land that eventually becomes the Compsons' property. A Chickasaw chief named Ikkemotubbe signed over one square mile of land in northern Mississippi, in return for peaceful passage for his people along the Trail of Tears. The Compsons' ancestors gradually added to the land to form the Compson Domain, a big plantation "fit to breed princes, statesmen and generals and bishops, to avenge the dispossessed Compsons."
The Appendix reveals a family that has been troubled from the beginning, perpetually on the losing side of history. One Compson after another is on the run from poor political alliances or the law. However, a Confederate brigadier general in the Civil War, Jason Lycurgus Compson II, is the first who must mortgage the family property and sell it off bit by bit, accelerating the process of the Compsons' ultimate decay and disintegration on display in the novel.
The Appendix also includes characters alive during the novel. Jason Compson III is revealed as an alcoholic. By the time he dies, all that is left of the Compson property is a "fragment containing the house and the kitchen garden and the collapsing stables and one servant's cabin in which Dilsey's family lived." The sections that follow also provide some insightful details and facts about the four Compson children and Miss Quentin, which do not appear in the rest of the novel. Some examples:
The Appendix ends with entries about Dilsey's family—"not Compsons. They were black." T.P. moved to Memphis. Frony married a Pullman porter and moved to St. Louis, but she came back to Memphis so Dilsey would live with her in her old age. Faulkner has a lighthearted perspective on Luster, whom he says was able to keep Benjy entertained. As for Dilsey? Faulkner writes only, "They endured."
Despite the fact that William Faulkner himself referred to the Appendix as the "key to the whole book," critics are divided about the addition to the novel in 1946. Scholars have meticulously analyzed every word, pointing out many discrepancies between what is stated in the Appendix and the actual plot of the novel. Those who think the Appendix detracts from the narrative and should not be included point out that it was originally the brainchild of the editor of the Portable Faulkner, Malcolm Cowley, who simply wanted an explanatory introduction to the excerpt from the novel that he planned to include. It shouldn't be considered any more than that. Debate has also centered on whether the Appendix should appear before or after the text of the novel. Regardless of these other issues, one thing most critics agree upon is the significance of the final line of the Appendix. About Dilsey, the force holding the Compson household together, Faulkner could say only, "They endured." Indeed, Dilsey endured it all, and those few words are a tribute to her strength.