Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Yoknapatawpha County

Yoknapatawpha County (YOK-nuh-puh-TAW-fuh). Fictional county in northeastern Mississippi created by Faulkner and used as the primary setting for most of his fiction, including The Unvanquished. The name of the county and its southern boundary, the Yoknapatawpha River, is an earlier spelling of the actual Yocona River. Yoknapatawpha County is similar to, though larger than, Lafayette County in northeastern Mississippi, where Faulkner lived most of his life. In addition to the Yoknapatawpha River, Faulkner’s county is bounded by the Tallahatchie River to the north, hill country to the east, and thick woods and hills to the west. The terrain of this rural county contributes to the success of the protagonist Bayard Sartoris, his slave companion Ringo, and Bayard’s grandmother Rosa Millard (“Granny”) in their scheme to get and sell Union Army mules. On the other hand, when Bayard, Ringo, and Uncle Buck McCaslin turn into pursuers circling the county in search of Grumby, Granny’s murderer, they too are handicapped by the terrain even though they know it well. Centered in the heart of the Confederacy, Yoknapatawpha County also functions as a microcosm of the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Sartoris plantation

Sartoris plantation. Large plantation located in Yoknapatawpha County about four miles north of Jefferson. With its mansion, slave cabins, and farm buildings, Sartoris is initially an idyllic place for the young Bayard, whose limited knowledge of the ongoing Civil War is demonstrated in the imaginary battles he and Ringo fight. The plantation, and consequently life as Bayard knows it, changes rapidly, however, with the burning of the Sartoris mansion by Yankee soldiers and the family’s moving into one...

(The entire section is 737 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Unvanquished is a series of linked short stories that compose a novel; it is in the tradition of such works as Joyce's...

(The entire section is 527 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Faulkner was working closely with materials based on his own family in Sartoris and The Unvanquished. Of the many biographies on...

(The entire section is 703 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

William Faulkner is said to have recommended that readers unfamiliar with his work should begin with The Unvanquished. Probably his...

(The entire section is 248 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

While this essay has already examined the tradition of linked short stories as novels and Faulkner's modifications in that tradition, the...

(The entire section is 276 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Once Faulkner began writing Flags in the Dust, the early version of Sartoris, links to nearly all of the characters of what...

(The entire section is 446 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Faulkner sold the film rights to The Unvanquished to MGM, but MGM never made a motion picture from the book, probably because...

(The entire section is 51 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Brooks, Cleanth. William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963. Presents a favorable discussion of the novel, remarking on strong characterization and the importance of the female characters. Finds the last chapter strong as a coda for the novel’s themes.

Hoffman, Daniel. Faulkner’s Country Matters: Folklore and Fable in Yoknapatawpha. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Contains a clear synopsis of the novel’s plot as well as discussions of Bayard’s maturity and his relationship with Ringo.

Roberts, Diane. “A Precarious Pedestal: The Confederate Woman in Faulkner’s Unvanquished.” Journal of American Studies 26, no. 2 (August, 1992): 233-246. Notes that the novel does not endorse the more masculine roles of Granny or Drusilla.

Taylor, Nancy Dew. “‘Moral Housecleaning’ and Colonel Sartoris’s Dream.” Mississippi Quarterly 37, no. 3 (Summer, 1984): 353-364. Concentrates on the last speech between the Colonel and Bayard; believes that only the methods, not the aggressive nature and goals, of the Colonel change.

Walker, William E. “The Unvanquished: The Restoration of Tradition.” In Reality and Myth, edited by William E. Walker and Robert L. Welker. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1964. Deals with the maturation of Bayard Sartoris, the theme of the novel. Suggests that Bayard restores the Southern tradition by eschewing violence. Explores the different ways Bayard is influenced by Granny, Colonel Sartoris, Drusilla, and other characters.