The Ranks of the Unvanquished


Bayard is decent, honorable, courageous and intelligent, a model Southern aristocrat for the post-war era. As a boy, he is occasionally given to impetuousness and rashness. In the course of the novel he matures profoundly, gaining a sense of the tragedy of life and learning to balance the often-violent chivalry of the traditional Southern gentleman with sensitivity and mercy. Colonel Sartoris commands his own regiment on the Virginia front until he is demoted by his troops so he can return home to care for his family; even then, he raises an "irregular" brigade who terrorize the far more numerous Yankees in Mississippi with their dashing assaults.

He is a larger-than-life figure, hot- blooded and arrogant but unceasingly heroic, and Bayard worships him. When he dies at the end of the novel, his son begins to assume his grandeur and valor. She is fierce, violent, militaristic and stubbornly independent, but displays a moving vulnerability when her mother tries to confine her and force her to be feminine. Eventually, she is pressured into marrying Colonel Sartoris after living with him on the front as a common soldier.

Drusilla is the book's most tragic figure, confined by a narrow Southern womanhood that almost breaks her spirit. The book seems to hint that she is in love with Bayard, though she only expresses her passion in a few intense moments. Read an in-depth analysis of Drusilla. At first Granny seems difficult to like: In fact, she sets up an audacious mule-stealing scam against the Yankees that lasts for almost a year, which relies on her fragile, elderly appearance and her brilliant cunning.

But despite these apparent flaws, Faulkner clearly feels a genuine affection for her, and ultimately portrays her as a tireless crusader for her family and for the poor people of the county, every bit as chivalrous as Bayard or Colonel Sartoris. Her death at the hands of a cowardly bandit is the novel's turning point and its emotional climax. Louvinia is the equivalent of the family mammy, and like the stereotypical mammy she is ornery but ultimately loyal and affectionate. She has no desire to be free, and angrily criticizes Loosh for turning on the Sartorises, calling him an ingrate and a fool.

Buck and Buddy whose real names are Amodeus and Theophilus are true town characters, who live in a converted slave cabin while their slaves live in the main house. They give their slaves considerable freedom and are beloved by the poor hill people for their generosity and leadership—the polar opposite of the Snopeses.

Buck, forced to stay home in Jefferson while his brother is away at the war, accompanies Bayard on his quest for revenge against Grumby. She eventually moves in with Bayard's family to try to rein in Drusilla and force her to conform to feminine expectations. To see the forebears of the Snopes and others adds to enjoyment of other books read and yet to come There are many moments in the book that I want to hold on to but I will read it again for certain. Granny was such a figure of courage, pride and certainty in an uncertain time.

This is my favorite of her moments. She just said "Come"and turned and went on, not toward the cabin, but across the pasture toward the road. We didn't know where we were going until we reached the church. She went straight up the aisle to the chancel and stood there until we came up. We knelt in the empty church. She was small between us, little; she talked quiet, not loud, not fast, not slow; I have stolen and I have borne false witness against my neighbor, though that neighbor was an enemy of my country.

And more than that. I have caused these children to sin. I hereby take their sin upon my conscience But I did not sin for gain or for greed," Granny said.

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I defy You or anyone to say I did. I sinned first for justice I am looking forward to my next Faulkner book. This is a group of stories told by Bayard Sartoris a year old boy in Mississippi about his family's plight during the Civil war. An interesting cast of characters; his Father Colonel John Sartoris, Granny Rosa , who steals and resells mules to the Calvary , his cousin Drusilla, who rides in disguise with the soldiers, and his best friend , the recently freed slave Ringo who has the books best lines That these chapters were submitted by Faulkner to the Saturday Evening Post as serial re This is a group of stories told by Bayard Sartoris a year old boy in Mississippi about his family's plight during the Civil war.

An interesting cast of characters; his Father Colonel John Sartoris, Granny Rosa , who steals and resells mules to the Calvary , his cousin Drusilla, who rides in disguise with the soldiers, and his best friend , the recently freed slave Ringo who has the books best lines That these chapters were submitted by Faulkner to the Saturday Evening Post as serial reads made sense as they never truly came together as one story for me.

I also found Bayard and Ringo's thoughts a little jovial for the situation and subject matter. I guess I'll just chalk that up to their youth. This is my second W. Just try reading a page of it out loud Since that was 2 stars, I'll give this one 3. Jul 08, Kirk Smith rated it it was amazing Shelves: Easily my favorite Faulkner! There are many more to be read, so I have much learn. This may have been his novel for novices and easy to follow. The violent death of Grumby was " he didn't scream, he never made a sound and the pistol both at the same time was level and steady as a rock.

Subtle violence with little or no blood! Compar Easily my favorite Faulkner! Compared with everything else I read that was refreshing. View all 3 comments. Jul 21, Steve rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: This is a great one. I thought I had read this book years back, but I must have only read a few stories in the collection. The Unvanquished is a collection of closely connected short stories that focus on the Sartoris family during and immediately following the Civil War.

But calling this "a collection" is a bit misleading. You should not approach this book without first reading it from beginning to end. I don't know what Faulkner was thinking when he wrote these stories without later providing This is a great one. I don't know what Faulkner was thinking when he wrote these stories without later providing some sort of connective work to transform the stories into an actual novel.

Maybe it was just money, as each story would originally appear separately in the Saturday Evening Post. Or maybe it was Faulkner a Modernist at heart experimenting with the form of the novel. If so, it's a mild experiment, since as you read on you will think of these stories as part of a whole. It is interesting to note that the much more radical experiment in novel writing, The Wild Palms , would immediately follow The Unvanquished. Anyway, getting back to this book, I've read several of these stories here and there mostly in the essential The Portable Faulkner.

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Great stories, no doubt, but to remove them from their original Unvanquished setting seems something of a crime since they have so much more power in the original collection. The final story, "An Odor of Verbena," will now forever be etched in my mind as one of Faulkner's greatest short stories. I liked it before, but it haunts me now. Apr 25, Matt rated it it was amazing Shelves: All the stories are good, mostly previously published in The Saturday Evening Post in the late thirties when he was "stirring the pot" making some quick cash while he worked on Absalom.

Each of the intertwined tales concerns two boys, one white and one black, growing up after the trauma of the Civil War. Colonel Sartoris, the fading patriarch, presides over the desiccated landscape and the ruins of Southern gentility. They work well together, complementing each other and keeping the narrative All the stories are good, mostly previously published in The Saturday Evening Post in the late thirties when he was "stirring the pot" making some quick cash while he worked on Absalom.

The Unvanquished Themes, Motifs and Symbols Summary

They work well together, complementing each other and keeping the narrative intact. You can see why the stories sold- they're suspenseful, dramatic, accessible not so many of Faulkner's infamous ultra-long sentences and vivid. And then it all leads up to the final story, the one Faulkner never sold to the magazines: An Odor of Verbena.

I read it with my heart in my throat. When it was finished, I was that good kind of exhausted you get when you read something particularly powerful. It grabbed me by the guts and wouldn't let go until I finished the last sentence.

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You could have knocked me over with a sneeze. It's sinister, kinda sexy in a subtly kinky way, hypnotic, tragic, all-too-human but humane, weaving the thematic concerns I mean the aforementioned "Southern codes of gentility", though it should be remarked that I am not Southern and so just kind of assume I can begin to understand the essential values in this cultural tradition from what I gather out of hearsay and various fictions of Sound and Absalom a relatively distilled version of its labyrinthine plot appears as marginal gloss here as well as elements of Macbeth and Great Expectations.

But never mind all that. Just crack open the tome, enjoy each story on its own worthy merits, and prepare to savor the final tale's sweet, intoxicating, doom-laden aroma for yourself. Mar 18, J. If ever there was a novel that could tidily serve as the alien's guide to America right now, this would serve nicely.

It's also one of those books that corners you and forces you into liking and loathing most of its characters all at once. Originally a collection of mildly interlocking short stories about the teenage son of a rogue Confederate officer, Faulkner threw these together into one of his best, most accessible stories. There is so much ambiguity here, moral, political and otherwise that, If ever there was a novel that could tidily serve as the alien's guide to America right now, this would serve nicely.

There is so much ambiguity here, moral, political and otherwise that, though it's tempting to dip into it by way of review, I think that any of it would spoil what is an often surprising, funny, and disturbing novel. This one often gets short thrift by Faulknerians or whatever, but I found it one of my faves. Jun 27, Billy O'Callaghan rated it it was amazing Shelves: It's been a few years since I read Faulkner, but I picked this one up last week and it was just a complete joy.

When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. This, basically, is the story of the coming-of-age of Bayard Sartoris, over a period of about a decade, from the age of eleven or twelve through into manhood.

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Told in seven chapters, each written originally as a short story and all but the final part published in magazines prior to being reworked into a novel form, it stands as a depict It's been a few years since I read Faulkner, but I picked this one up last week and it was just a complete joy. Told in seven chapters, each written originally as a short story and all but the final part published in magazines prior to being reworked into a novel form, it stands as a depiction of life lived through and in the aftermath of Civil War.

The Sartoris family run a plantation in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, but Bayard's father, John, is off fighting on the Confederate side, and the household is run by the elegant and ferocious Granny Millard. Bayard gets to run wild, accompanied by a slave boy, Ringo, and their adventures include shooting at a Yankee cavalryman, helping to run a long and very lucrative con on the entire northern army, and hunting down a monstrous killer.

All that's glorious about Faulkner is here: But this is a short novel, too, with a relatively clean and cohesive plot, and having been stitched together from seven short stories and in no way the worse for that it is eminently readable, and accessible. What's more, the ending is sublime. This is the book that's often cited as the ideal entry point into his work for the uninitiated, and I can only second that. While it probably ranks as a lesser work, in that it doesn't display quite the daring or the virtuosity of novels like 'The Sound and the Fury', 'As I Lay Dying' or 'Light in August', it still stands as a beautiful temptation, because it makes thoughts of his other books shine, and puts you firmly on the hook for what is still to come.

Apr 25, Jeanette rated it it was amazing. So intrinsic to a time, place, core feeling that my words can't do it justice. Thinking of Granny for awhile before my meager descriptive reaction. This work is perfection. The mix of dialect and formal word beauty phenomenal. There is not a nuance unvisited, nor a gut clench obscured.

These, IMHO, are the best bloomed characters in all his masterful and effusive publishing. The boys, John, Granny, Drusila and every character in every full flower of their identity and force.

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There are at lea So intrinsic to a time, place, core feeling that my words can't do it justice. There are at least 3 quotable paragraphs a page in this novel. Depth of instinct coupled with profound cognition tested. It's far more than a coming-of-age story. It's embedded in the end of surrender that is never a surrender. At the end of a trial that is only the beginning of yet another. And also still at the same time and forward, a constant, consistent, continual hurricane of secure self-identity for "us".

They being the Yankees and the disingenuous to loyalty. This was read from a classics collection of Faulkner books and stories that are grouped by years. This being in the volume. The pages fine and nearly transparent, the whole with a red ribbon for a gentle page saver.

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What a treat to read this now for the first time. I would never have appreciated it as much when I was young. But in such a finely detailed form, the read was a flashback to reading in all its pleasures. Over time, because they make you work at it, I will read other Faulkner that I had not visited.

Coupling this with some other dialect and Southern works and his niece's memoir just recently absolutely doubled the pleasure, if that's possible. Aug 09, Samir Rawas Sarayji rated it really liked it Shelves: Faulkner at his most accessible. Slavery, racism, Yankees and all. The stories started out strong and exciting but gradually dwindled as the book progressed and finally picked up towards the end.

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I enjoyed the adventure and seeing how Bayard Satoris and slave friend Ringo grew up to be very different men. Yet the commonness and reality of the south are never lost on them. That aspect I consider wo Faulkner at his most accessible. That aspect I consider wonderful character development, in tune with the circumstances.

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I also really liked the dialect. Jun 16, Morgan rated it really liked it Shelves: Kind of a good book if you want a chill afternoon in the summer. I found this a quick read, but I didn't have much to do today. Although, this isn't my favorite Faulkner book, I liked the characters like Granny. I liked having read a few Faulkner books now I can see he reuses names from other books. I like how most of his books connect with other books he wrote. Sep 25, Chuck rated it liked it. Still making my mind up about this one; in many ways, I like this novel as much if not more than I liked much of the Faulkner that I've read.

It's unified in that there was only one point of view character, Bayard Sartoris, as opposed to the multiple narrators sometimes as many as fifteen that are common in Faulkner's works. It also has a compact period of time, about ten years in Bayard's life, from the early s to the s, from when he was a young boy in the Civil War until he is a law Still making my mind up about this one; in many ways, I like this novel as much if not more than I liked much of the Faulkner that I've read.

It also has a compact period of time, about ten years in Bayard's life, from the early s to the s, from when he was a young boy in the Civil War until he is a law student at the University of Mississippi. The novel also captures much of what was despicable and admirable about the South. Slavery is not sugar coated--Faulkner flat-out believed slavery was wrong--and yet you see the complex relationships that developed between slave and the families who were over them. Particularly interested is the relationship between Bayard and Ringo, a slave who is exactly Bayard's age.

Bayard and Ringo have been raised together, nursed at the same breast and sharing the same bed when they were younger. During the Civil War period, it is Ringo who is most responsible for keeping the family safe and together; Bayard declares flatly that Ringo was more intelligent and more capable than he.

But by the end of the book, you see the different paths that post-bellum Southern society will push them on; Bayard is clearly the master of the house, Ringo, clearly the servant although still probably the better man. The Unvanquished also explores the plight of the freed slaves, who were not really wanted or welcome in the North after emancipation, and the starvation and other dangers they faced on the road in a South whose white society feared and did not welcome them.

Also, one sees the kindness in the form of the Granny, who does her best to make sure all who are displaced by the war, white or black, are fed and sheltered. It's a novel that has no clear cut bad guys or good guys, of people trying to find their way in a world that changes so much it is virtually unrecognizable. It also has some of the strongest and most interesting women characters I've read in Faulkner, particularly Granny and pistol-packing, street fighting Aunt Dru, who gives lie to those who say that all of Faulkner's women are whores or mothers.

Dru is neither, and it is she, more than any other character in the book , who chafes against the strictures society places on her. Okay, now that I've thought it through, I really like the book a lot. The fewer stars than I might otherwise give are becuase it's a Faulkner--most other authors, this wouold be a four or five star tome. But since it's Faulkner and I know he wrote at least five books better than this one, I give it three stars and a strong recommendation.

Jul 21, twrctdrv rated it liked it. A Faulkner sentence stretches on and on indefinitely, connected by seemingly purposelessly by numerous ands and semicolons, as if it were attempting to contain everything it possibly could from the scene it describes, both past and future, to the point where almost no action occurs, even when two major characters face each other in an office of law, two pistols drawn; the guns are not shot within the sentence, but rather described as not shot then later remembered to have been shot.

In addition, A Faulkner sentence stretches on and on indefinitely, connected by seemingly purposelessly by numerous ands and semicolons, as if it were attempting to contain everything it possibly could from the scene it describes, both past and future, to the point where almost no action occurs, even when two major characters face each other in an office of law, two pistols drawn; the guns are not shot within the sentence, but rather described as not shot then later remembered to have been shot. In addition, Faulkner's main method of describing thing is to say they are not their opposites: Thus these mammoth sentences which attempt to contain everything cannot contain anything; they can only list the things they cannot contain, slowly outlining what they mean in an arduous but eventually effective way, forcing their reader to trace the path along with them and become complicit in their creation.

These are just a few reasons why Faulkner is so goddamn hard to read. Especially in this collection of action based short stories, which seem to offer little reward for the difficult process of reading them. Feb 20, Mrs. Ward rated it did not like it. I get it, I get it. William Faulkner is "one of the greats" a "lead in the canon of American History. The only reason I made it all the way through the book was because I was forced to read it for a literature course several years ago. I didn't see the "art" in it. I just felt tortured. Aug 19, Al Gellene rated it really liked it.

I have to admit that I feel terribly ambiguous about Faulkner. I am in thrall with the writing. It flows and eddies in a mesmerizing way. His characters are like forces of nature, impelled by who and what they are to unavoidable conflict and, for many of them, doom.

That the narrative sometimes borders on impenetrable, not so much in The Unvanquished, as much as in Absalom, Absalom and his many of his other novels, forces the reader to fixate on the prose, delve deeply into the dark and unfathom I have to admit that I feel terribly ambiguous about Faulkner. That the narrative sometimes borders on impenetrable, not so much in The Unvanquished, as much as in Absalom, Absalom and his many of his other novels, forces the reader to fixate on the prose, delve deeply into the dark and unfathomable aspects of human nature and mirrors the sometimes inscrutability of life.

On the other hand, as one reviewer as said, his is a perpetuator of the Southern Myth: His treatment of the issues of race make my skin prickle. With notable exceptions, slaves and former slaves are depicted as a dark force of the natural world. Historically, the freed slaves did converge, in masses, upon the Union lines. And probably had as little knowledge about the realities of the world outside their plantations as we do of outer space. The Vanquished is a compelling story of the voyage of one white youth in Civil War Mississippi from innocence to knowledge.

At the beginning of the novel, at 14 years of age, Bayard is blithely unaware of the outside world. Neither Bayard nor Ringo seem to have any consciousness of his nature as an owned chattel. When word comes that the Yankees are freeing all the slaves, Ringo and Bayard have a hard time understanding just what this means. This triggers a series of events which, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, thrusts Ringo and Bayard into premature manhood.

Love, hate, honor, justice and illicit passion are the dominating themes of the novel. Villains receive their just reward. The good are left to struggle on, bound by iron clad codes. At the end of the novel, which takes place some ten years after the end of the war, Bayard faces a moment of truth in which he comes fully into himself and which finally defines his character. In the novel, the Civil War is treated as a war to preserve a way of life rather than a war about slavery, an issue hotly debated by historians to this day.

Its battles occur off stage as do the deaths of its brave heroes. It is a compelling adventure story which I finished in a few days, having been captivated by the drama and the strong and interesting characters. The stage is at times sketchy. Whatever happened to all the other slaves on the Sartoris plantation before the coming of the Yankees is never fully explained.

Neither is the tactical and strategic flow of Yankee and Confederate forces across the landscape, although the depredations of the Union forces, intent on economic punishment of the rebels, burning and looting everything of value, is made clear. The book is a great introduction to Faulkner and a rewarding read. It is not the best of his novels, but probably the most accessible. Despite my misgivings, I am a great fan of Faulkner. Sep 22, Paul Clayton rated it it was amazing. I finally finished The Unvanquished a week or so ago. Oh, did I say I have a job and a commute?

Anyway, The Unvanquished — I really enjoyed it! What intrigues me still is what Faulkner left out of that book.