The Unvanquished, by William Faulkner, is a novel overflowing with violence. Set in the south during the tumultuous years of the Civil War. Bayard, whose father (Colonel Sartoris), is at the center of the conflict. His father, his grandmother, his cousin, and his slaves are all involved in the struggle. Bayard has lived with the war and bloodshed since he was a small child. His father led a troop of renegade soldiers during the war. He and his grandmother were chased through the woods by enemy soldiers. He and his slave, Ringo, have hunted and killed the man responsible for his grandmother’s death. Despite the suffering and loss of life, Bayard finally enters law school and begins to form the basis for a normal existence. When Ringo arrives to tell him that his father has been killed by Ben Redmond, his former business partner, he knows that many will expect him to exact revenge.
When Bayard arrives home, he is met by Drusilla, his cousin and his father’s wife. She is eager to see him and giddy for revenge. She is near emotional breakdown as she encourages him to avenge his father’s death. His Aunt Jenny, however, suggests caution. While she does not explicitly instruct Bayard to spare Redmond’s life, she does offer him permission to consider it. The next day, Bayard does confront Redmond. He does not arm himself, however, and Redmond is allowed to escape the city of Jefferson unharmed. This is significant because Bayard chooses, through this act, to end the violence that has colored his life since he was a child. Disappointed in his decision, Drusilla leaves the house and moves away. Bayard, however, looks forward to a future without bloodshed.