Compson Place: The Branch (Location Key)


What the Compsons in The Sound and the Fury refer to as "the branch" is a small creek that runs alongside their property. As children they played in it. It is where Caddy got her "drawers" (underwear) muddy in 1898, and where she returns a dozen years later after having sex for the first time. It is also where, in Benjy's section of the novel, an unspecified number of black women are washing the clothes of their white customers. In a story Faulkner wrote half a dozen years after the novel he seems to add another strange chapter to the story of this branch. "Skirmish at Sartoris" is one of the Unvanquished stories he wrote about the Sartoris family during and just after the Civil War. But the Compson family makes an appearance in it when the narrative mentions "Mrs. Compson's husband." This Mr. Compson has been "locked up for crazy" for a long time, but before the Civil War he used to "gather up" a group of enslaved children and "line them up across the creek" while he shoots sweet potatoes off their heads (62). It's a confusing event, because it's hard to figure out who this "husband" might be. But the creek where he displays such callous disregard for human life is probably the branch that first appears in The Sound and the Fury - although there's no way to know with any certainty that Faulkner was thinking of it that way.

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Compson Place: The Branch