|About the Book|
The Unvanquished is a coming-of-age novel set during the American Civil War and Reconstruction. Six of the seven stories were individually published in the Saturday Evening Post and Scribners before Faulkner finished it as a novel. The book is narrated by Bayard Sartoris as he looks back on his life on a Mississippi plantation from age 12 to 24.The young Bayard thinks of war as a great adventure, and he has a hero worshiping attitude toward his father, Colonel John Sartoris, who leads a Confederate regiment. Bayard and Ringo, a 12-year-old slave boy, have been raised together. The first stories involve adventures where Bayard and Ringo seem largely unaware of the politics and racial tensions that exist.As the war progresses there are many instances of heroism exhibited by ordinary people--including the young boys and my favorite character, Granny. She uses a forgery scheme to fool the Union soldiers so that the community does not go hungry. Waves of freed slaves move North to find the River Jordan, but things are not that easy. Racial and class distinctions still exist.During the difficult Reconstruction period, John Sartoris is shown to be domineering and hot-tempered, letting nothing stand in his way to success. He sent Bayard to law school because he wanted his son to be able to take the law into his own hands. But the mature Bayard has different ideas about honor and manhood. Bayard wants an end to violence in their community, and a new code of honor based on law and justice.Although the book has many moral themes throughout, the story also has many humorous and touching episodes that temper the tragic moments. Slavery on the Sartoris plantation is described in much more benign terms than what frequently existed. The book ended with the feeling that change was brewing, and it wouldnt come easily.This book is a May group read for the On the Southern Literary Trail group.