Boekverslag : William Faulkner - The Unvanquished
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The Unvanquished


William Faulkner

First published in



This is a historical novel. Most of the things happened in the book also happened in real life. Think of the american civil war for example.

The Setting

The story is set in Sartoris; Memphis, the South of the present U.S.A.. Sometimes they leave to various places. The time is from the American civil war until about 9 years after the war.


The main character is Bayard (the I-figure). He is the son of the confederate colonel John Sartoris. His best friend is one of their slaves Ringo. They were born in the same month, and had fed at the same breast. When they are still young, they are always together. It appears that Ringo is smarter than Bayard. They both call Bayards grandmother granny. She's an old, wise woman. Father is a colonel in the confederate army. He is a very strict and severe man. Drusilla is a cousin, and she is older than Bayard and Ringo. Her fiancé died at the beginning of the war. She dresses like a man and she joins the army under the command of Father. In the end she marries him. She didn't want to, but that was the only way not to get disgrace on the family. I think that Bayard and Ringo are round characters, because you get to know a lot about them and their feelings. Granny is a flat character, because you know almost nothing about her. That goes the same for father. The slaves of the family Sartoris are Joby, Loosh, Philadelpy and Ringo. They are all flat characters, except Ringo.

Explanation of the title

The southern people are very proud. They believe in their values. Although they have surrendered in the war, they are still unvanquished. Also Bayard is unvanquished, because he has won two duels, which he could not have won. One is against a very dangerous criminal named Grumby, the other is against B.J. Redmond who missed him twice from a close distance being unarmed himself.


Bayard and Ringo are two boys, white and black, who are always together. Bayards father is a colonel in the confederate army. The two boys have a relatively quiet live, until they shoot at a yankee for the first time. They only killed his horse. After a time there is another group of yankees. They burn their house. When they have travelled to their aunt Louisa, they cross the river Jordan, because they are slipped in, amongst a lot of negroes, who want to cross. After a while they get to a yankee camp and granny wants their silver and their mules back. They get ten boxes of silver and 110 mules and 110 negroes on command of the General Commanding. At the end when they get home, they have 122 mules and horses and almost 150 negroes. They discover a trade. Ringo appears to be a master in forging documents. They have Ab Snopes to sell the mules back to the yankees. After a while, the trade is discovered, but they manage to get away. When granny wants to sell some mules herself, she gets killed by Grumby, a very dangerous criminal. Ringo and Bayard go after him with Uncle Buck. Uncle Buck gets shot, and has to go home. They follow on their own, and kill Grumby. As they get home, the war is over. Father and Drusilla are home. Then, aunt Louisa and a few other women want Drusilla to marry father. This is because everybody thinks that they had an affair while she was in the army. They go to town (Jefferson) to marry in secret, and then give a reception. But they don't. Father kills two black men called Burden who wanted to organise the negroes in Republicans. Bayard goes to live with Mr. and mrs. Wilkins. Mr. Wilkins was a professor in law which Bayard studied. One day, nine years after the end of the war, Ringo came to say that father was shot. Father and Drusilla had already married at that time, but she had said to Bayard that she wanted him to kiss her. He didn't. Bayard went to the man who had shot him, but unarmed. This man, Redmond, got his gun and shot twice at Bayard. He missed. Then he went away and took the train to return never again. When he gets back home, Drusilla is gone.


I think that an important theme is, that women are a lot more sensitive than men. They would not kill so much.

Narrative technique

The story is told in the past. It is told chronologically, but there are a lot of flashbacks, and sometimes references to the future. Everything is told by the I-figure, Bayard. He is a main character. The reader is not addressed personally. There are a lot of diallogues in the story.

Personal evaluation

I believe that the main characters are very sensible people. Of course, by their education, they know not else but that negroes are niggers. I don't think my opinion about them has changed significantly during the story. The story has surely given me some insight in the charcters of the people. It was a very exciting book, but I think it was sometimes a little difficult to follow the red line. After all, I think it was a very good book.
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