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William Faulkner's The Unvanquished concerns the honor code of the South. It is a theme that Faulkner touches upon in his other novels: The Sound and the Fury, Light In August, Absalom, Alsalom! and the trilogy. Faulkner explores the morality of the long-upheld Southern traditions of racism, pride, and machismo that lead to violence and cruelty.
To some extent Mark Twain explores the same type of idea in Huckleberry Finn with the fueding of the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons. In Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell touches upon the theme with Ashley Wilkes' honor code that is in sharp contrast to Rhett Butler's more pragmatic way of living. In each work, the violence and war as a result of honor is questioned.
But perhaps a better model for the revenge story is found not in a work from the South, but one written much earlier--Shakespeare's Hamlet. Llike Faulkner's Bayard, Hamlet must decide whether or not to avenge his father's death. Unlike Bayard, Hamlet eventually yields to the pressure and in so doing becomes a harsher, more callous individual--killing not only the murderer of his father, but also Polonius, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Bayard's story is also a coming of age story, and he too is dillusioned by the weakness of those whom he once admired. Yet Bayard decides to end the cycle of revenge, going against the Southern codes of family honor.
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