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On The Unvanquished by W. Faulkner - Essay Example

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The word, unvanquished,' references the determination to stand firm and strong against whatever odds one may confront and the persistent refusal to allow circumstances or the actions of another to incite one towards a betrayal of his own personal ethos, morality, conceptualization of honor and self-image…
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On The Unvanquished by W. Faulkner

Download file to see previous pages... Bayard, growing up in the vanquished South and under the influence of a father whose ethos revolves around war and dreams, could have easily absorbed an ethos of self-destruction and vanquishment. Colonel Sartoris' legacy, and indeed the family heritage, is one of war; a legacy which defines heroism and honor in terms of the destruction of others. It is a legacy which irrevocably defines war as glory and the defeat of others as heroism. Within the context of this legacy, one inherently founded upon the precept of vanquishing the other,' In so doing, he ultimately engages in self-destruction.
In addition to the above, Colonel Sartoris emerges as a dreamer - a man whose thoughts are so intently focused on his perceptions of honor and on the maintenance of the previously defined legacy that he fails to connect with the reality around him. In articulating the nature of that dream, Drusilla tells Bayard that his father "is thinking of this whole country which he is trying to raise by its bootstraps, so that all people in it, not just his kind nor his old regiment, but all people, black and white, the women and the children" may enjoy a better life (Faulkner, p. 256). This is an undoubtedly noble and honorable dream but it is, nonetheless, a dream. The very concept of dreams effectively signifies a rupture with, and destruction of, reality. From this perspective, therefore, Bayard is raised in an atmosphere which should have imposed self-destruction upon him, whether consequent to the ethos embraced within the family legacy or that contained within his father's dreams.
Bayard could have followed in his father's footsteps but his refusal to do so is a testimony to his struggle against vanquishment. Rather than blindly inherit his father's dream and his family's legacy, Bayard selectively interprets the dream and legacy. Thus, when thinking about Drusilla's explanation of his father's dream, Bayard tells himself, that "his dream was not something he possessed but something which he had bequeathed us which we could never forget" (291). Within the context of the stated, the dream emerges as the embodiment of a code of honor. Rather than take the dream as is and live within its confines, thereby isolating himself from his surrounding reality as his father had done, Bayard interprets the dream as a code of honor by which to live his life.
Bayard's interpretation of his father's dream as a code of honor which would sustain him, rather than incite his destruction, is evident in his reaction to his grandmother's murder. Despite the fact that he was just a child when Grumpy murdered his grandmother and even though he was raised in the tradition of bloodshed and vengeance, he refuses to loose himself. Therefore, not only does he determine that this even would not ruin his life or shake his personality, or motivate him to question his ethos but he refuses to exploit his age as a means of rescinding responsibility. As such, he captures Grumpy and ensures that he is brought to justice. To the extent that Bayard represent morality and honor, his actions ensure that honor and morality are unvanquished.
A second and more fundamental test emerges with the question of avenging his father's death. As an adult, a grown man with the power to act, Bayard confronts his father's murderer and he does so unarmed. Bayard could have killed Redmond, and blamed his actions on "blood, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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