What are the important conflicts in The Unvanquished?

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pearlepratt | Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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 There are many forms of conflict in William Faulkner’s, “The Unvanquished.” In the opening scene, two young children, Bayard and Ringo, play contentedly in the sand. Their play is interrupted by Loosh, a discontented slave. This is the first of several conflicts in the novel. Loosh is aware that the Union Army is approaching and he looks forward to their arrival because he longs for freedom. This scene illustrates the clear delineation between the wishes of slave owners and those whom they enslave. In addition, the Civil War looms as an even greater form of conflict.

Bayard’s cousin, Drusilla is a woman of southern upbringing. Still, she wants to fight for her heritage in a time when women were expected to be delicate, lovely and helpless. She resists her family’s expectations and runs away to join Colonel Sartoris and his troops in their battle against their common enemy.

Ab Snopes and Grumby, both acknowledged thieves, are in conflict with all society as they defraud and rob unfortunate victims of war-torn communities. These unscrupulous bandits are merciless in their victimization of those on either side of the larger conflict. They are selfish in their endeavors and they demonstrate loyalty to no one.

Though there are many other instances of conflict in the novel, including Granny’s deceitful horse trading, the social influences that force Drusilla to wed and the ever-growing disparity between Bayard’s and Ringo’s abilities. However, one of the most challenging conflicts is Bayard’s internal struggle to end the violence that has colored his life. In the final chapters of the novel, his father, Colonel Sartoris is killed by his former partner, Ben Redmond. Many feel that Bayard would be justified in revenging his father’s death by murdering Redmond. Instead, Bayard decides to spare Redmond’s life, although he risks his own in the process.


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