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Carlos Dews ENGL 441: The Novel in America Since 1914 11 May 2010 The Unity of Disunity Found in Faulkner’s The Unvanquished There are many differing opinions on the right and wrong ways in which to write or compile a novel. The real question should be not what is the right way, but is there really a right way? From my understanding of the matter the answer is no there is no specific right or wrong way to write a novel. Every novel does have specific elements such as the plot, structure, setting, descriptions, characters, viewpoint, and of course the dialogue within the storyline. However, is this all that is needed for a novel to be considered a novel or are their other component and factors that are considered when one decides they are writing a novel or if they are compiling an anthology of short stories. The fact that an author writes six stories that are published separately over a six month time frame does not necessarily insinuate a short story, but could show as an excerpt of a novel (Akin 10). It is this fact that many critics use to show that the novel The Unvanquished is truly a novel and not just an anthology. The majority of readers would say that the one thing that creates a novel in a theme that runs throughout out the entire novel. The theme is the most important factor. The characters can be the same, differ or come and go throughout. This concept of characters has been called into question with books such as Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, which has a single narrator, tells the stories of several different characters in which the plot of the story stays in focus but from the narrator’s concept of the characters differing perspectives (Akin 3; Lent 56). So Faulkner’s The Unvanquished is not alone. Along with Anderson and Faulkner, other novels are
[Student’s Last Name]2 questioned as being short story anthologies or novels from other authors, such as Steinbeck and his Tortilla Flat, Cather and her The Professor’s House, and of course, even Hemingway in his In Our Time (Lent 56). The one thing all these novels have in common is the fact that each chapter within these novels can stand alone as a short story, but that they also create a cohesive novel when placed together in a single story form. The theme and the unity of Faulkner’s The Unvanquished falls on the concept of the Civil War, the Southern Code and the maturation of Bayard Sartoris from a child of twelve to a man of twenty-four. It is the maturation of the young Bayard that revolves around the co-themes of the Southern Code and Civil War (Akin 4; Knoll 339; Sharpe). It is within the times of the Civil War that young Bayard learns of the Southern Code and what it means to the Southern Plantation owner (Akin 5). In his own right, he is heir to his father’s plantation and therefore, must understand the code and the chivalrous acts of what constitutes the Southern aristocratic man (Akin 3; Collins 92; Knoll 339; Lent 56). The first six sections of the book prepare the foundation for Bayard’s understanding and the changes that occur with the end of the Civil War and with the new way in which Bayard views life in the Reconstruction Era South. The first section of the book is “Ambuscade” begins with the young Bayard playing with his friend, partner in crime and slave, Ringo. The child, Bayard, at this point “shadowy and indistinct” in all that he does at this time and is only at the age where he is to start learning the etiquette of the Southern man, and yet he is learning to manipulate the situations and yet to repent for those same actions (Knoll 339; Sharpe). Within this section, Ringo and Bayard protect their house by shooting a Yankee. They are terrified and run back to the house followed by the Yankee soldiers. Granny hides the boys and lies, which is against the rules of aristocratic southerners. Yet she does just what she teaches the boys is wrong, to save them. In the process
[Student’s Last Name]3 they find out they shot the horse and not the man and are therefore saddened that they did not live up to their expectations, but also because they were reprimanded in the end by Granny (Faulkner 33; Knoll 342). Comparing this section to the sections found in a novel the chapter seems to coincide with the short story. The protagonist is introduced in the form of Bayard. The main enemy is introduced which is the Yankees or the Union Army. This is not the only enemy, but it is this enemy that creates the other enemies that Bayard must face in the remaining stories/chapters. The setting is given to the reader as well in a small Mississippi town of Jefferson in Yoknapatawpha County on a plantation. Some facts that are left out are the specifics about the plantation, such as the layout, the number of acres, and the crops grown. These factors are not important in comparison to the understanding of Bayard’s being the heir to the plantation, and in his case that is mainly the house. Even the view point is of importance in this analysis because the viewpoint is from a mature Bayard that now has he insight to see his errors, but also has the understanding and background that allowed those errors to feel like they were the right thing to do at that time in history. The narrator is not looking back in regret nor in frustration, but as a man looking back on the utopian and idealist dream of a child (Akin 5; Collins 92; Lent 56). Each of the other five section, chapters, or short stories, what ever they be considered, are all focused on the growth of the child, Bayard, from that twelve year old “naïve boy” into the man that is studying to be a lawyer within the seventh and last section of the novel (Akin 5). Within the chapter “Raid” the young Bayard is not older, but is still considered a child. Ringo has grown and matured in responsibility and helps Granny with the mule stealing. It is also in this chapter that the reader is told by Bayard that even his father believes that Ringo is “a little smarter” than his own son Bayard (Faulkner 81). This is one of the sections that is not focused
[Student’s Last Name]4 on Bayard himself, but looks at the situation through his eyes. The fact that Granny and Ringo, and Mr. Snopes are all breaking the Southern Code baffles Bayard, but he is not able to do anything about it. However, even in his eyes, the fact that Granny gives most of the money and the mules to the people that live around the plantation does create a type of justification, even in Bayard’s mind (Knoll 342). Using the actions from his point of view allows the story to retain itself and the cohesion of the chapters within the novel. Each chapter in this novel creates a link for the next. Even the passage of time is not of great importance for the storyline, itself. The main theme is Bayard and his understanding of the Southern code of which he is to uphold at all costs. However, by the time of the seventh chapter or section the time of the southern code is now gone. There are people still around who are afraid of change and they remain attached to the old chivalrous actions and want to maintain the role of the south that it held in the days before the civil war. This last chapter shows the slow change in the community and society in which the new Southern people live. The death of John Sartoris, the father of Bayard, is the climatic moment that requires the now twenty-four year old Bayard to decide if the change of society is permanent or if the ways of the Southern Code still prevail over the educated and logical mind. This seventh chapter tells much about many of the still living characters. The character of Ringo wants to help revenge Colonel Sartoris, but Bayard will not allow him, it is also because of the fact that while they were inseparable as children, they were no longer children, and the death of Colonel Sartoris had changed their roles with one another, making Bayard superior to Ringo, and both knew it (Faulkner 215). George Wyatt also hopes to help revenge the death of Colonel Sartoris, but again Bayard says no (Faulkner 233). It was in this moment of finding out that his father had not moved to retaliate against Redmond that Bayard made his final
[Student’s Last Name]5 decision to stop the killing or be killed trying. The old South was gone and the new South needed time to heal and change for the better (Akin 9; Faulkner 232; Knoll 343; Sharpe). The only difference between this novel and any other novel was the fact that several of its pieces were published prior to the whole. However, this is not uncommon. There are many authors who offer excerpts of upcoming novels. With this in mind, there is no reason to think of this as anything other than a novel. Even though each section can stand on its own as a short story, the compilation of the stories and the concluding chapter, “Odor of Verbena” create a full and complete novel of a coming to age story of Bayard Sartoris and the changes that occurred to the younger generation in the aftermath of the Civil War and the consequences and changes of the Southern Restoration Era.
[Student’s Last Name]6 Works Cited Akin, Warren, IV. ""Blood and Raising and Background": The Plot of "the Unvanquished"." Modern Language Studies 11.1 (1980): 3-11. Web. 30 March 2010. Collins, Carvel. "Faulkner and Certain Earlier Southern Fiction." College English 16.2 (1954): 92-7. Web. 30 March 2010. Faulkner, William. The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text. New York: Vintage International, 1991. Internet Archive. Web. 27 March 2010. Knoll, Robert E. "The Unvanquished for a Start." College English 19.8 (1958): 338-43. Web. 30 March 2010. Lent, John D. "Teaching the Cycle of Short Stories." The English Journal 70.1 (1981): 55-7. Web. 30 March 2010. Sharpe, Peter. "Bonds that Shackle: Memory, Violence, and Freedom in the Unvanquished." Faulkner Journal (2004): 85. Web. 30 March 2010.