Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
John Sartoris, a colonel in the confederate army. Sartoris, who is from Mississippi and devoted to the antebellum South, twice raises volunteers from the Jefferson area to fight in the Civil War. Although he is a widower and must leave behind an elderly mother-in-law and a twelve-year-old son, Sartoris believes it is his duty to fight for the South. Even after he realizes that defeat is inevitable, he continues to fight. After the war, he devotes his time and energy to reclaiming his land and rebuilding the city of Jefferson. Accustomed to holding power and killing, Colonel Sartoris wields his influence after the war as he builds a railroad and runs for political office. While his son Bayard is studying law, Sartoris tells him that times are changing and he would like to stop killing. He dies when his former business partner, whom he needlessly humiliated and needled, shoots him.
Rosa “Granny” Millard
Rosa “Granny” Millard, Sartoris’ mother-in-law. She lives on Sartoris land during the Civil War, caring for her grandson Bayard, whose mother died in childbirth, and overseeing the property and the black people who work on the Sartoris land. Despite her religious beliefs, Granny forges papers to steal mules from Yankee soldiers in order to help poor Southerners survive. She is killed by a Southern raider when she tries to make a deal to get valuable horses in order to have money to help her family...
(The entire section is 562 words.)
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As with most of Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha characters, readers can find these characters' origins in Sartoris (1929), later published posthumously as Flags in the Dust. More even than The Sound and the Fury (1929), Sartoris is a break-through book for Faulkner, since, in his imagination, he discovers a mythic place and group of characters that engaged his whole life. Faulkner had a habit of reusing characters and reworking them. All of the stories in The Unvanquished were previously published as short stories except "An Odor of Verbena"— five in The Saturday Evening Post, a popular magazine, and "Skirmish at Sartoris" in the more literary Scribner's Magazine. As is typical of Faulkner, he deepened the works, particularly the first two stories in The Saturday Evening Post. Instead of a series of works that might well have been a series of comic adventures for Ringo and Bayard with a Civil War backdrop, the characters in the novel are used to examine the effects of war, privation, and social change in the South from 1863 through Reconstruction.
Aside from place, what holds the stories together is the growth of Bayard, from a twelve-year-old boyhood to a twenty-four-year-old manhood. The changes in Bayard are caused by the war and its aftermath, but mainly they are caused by changes in the relation of Bayard to his father. Bayard and Ringo, in the first two stories, see John Sartoris as if he were a...
(The entire section is 1280 words.)