Essay on The Unvanquished

This essay has a total of 1228 words and 5 pages.

The Unvanquished


In the novel The Unvanquished, written by William Faulkner, honor is dealt with first hand
throughout the novel. In some cases, like Ab Snopes, there is a major lack of honor. But
the characters Bayard and his Grandmother, Granny, have honor, and lots of it. Though
Granny dies, it is an honorable death that brings out honor in Bayard. Bayard is a young
man and is changing, as he grows so does his honor. When in the end he displays his honor
in many different ways. Ab Snopes is a conniving devious character that is only in the war
for booty. Ab never shows true honor in this novel, and possibly anywhere because he has
no honor. Honor plays a key part in this novel and is vividly shown by each character.


Granny takes care of Bayard and his black friend Ringo for most of the book. She dealt
with hard times, and had to do some bad things, but she did it honorably, and taught the
two boys about honor. Granny ran a business with Bayard Ringo where they stole mules and
horses from the Yankees, then sold them back. She was a southern woman, and this was her
way of fighting the war. Because she needed the boys help to do this, they had to do some
sinful things. Granny took the burden of the sins: “I have sinned. I have stolen and I
have born false wittiness 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” (Faulkner 148). Though she is being a good grandmother, she is also
taking the sin of two extra people. Granny shows honor here by taking the sins of the
boys. Granny also showed the boys that it was not all right to steal.


When Granny walks into a situation unarmed to get some horses she demonstrates honor
because she says to the boys that the men won’t harm a woman, she knows that she could
die: “And now I am taking no risk: I am a woman. Even Yankees do not harm old women. You
and Ringo stay here until I call you. We tried. I keep on saying that because I know now I
didn’t” (Faulkner 153). Though she did die, it was not a dishonorable death. She went into
a dangerous situation with courage and honor and showed the boys honor.


Bayard left with his grandmother because his father was at war with the Yankees. He
demonstrates honor from beginning to end, but it is towards the end that he really shows
his honor and adulthood. When his grandmother is killed, Bayard and Ringo hunt down the
man who killed her, and the man who lead her there, Ab Snopes. “I just walked steadily
toward him as the pistol rose from the desk. I watched, I could the foreshortened slant of
the barrel and knew that it would miss me though his hand did not tremble. I walked toward
him, toward the pistol in the rock like hand, I heard no bullet” (Faulkner 248-249). It
takes courage to walk into a room knowing that you are going to be shot at, and still
enter. He is ending the dispute between his family, and the man, without violence. This
takes honor that he is not sure that he has: “I remember how I thought while her hands
still rested on my shoulders: At least this will be my chance to find out if I am what I
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