In The Unvanquished by William Faulkner, the theme of revenge appears throughout the story. Primarily, Bayard and Ringo avenge the death of Rosa Millard, their grandmother. By violently shooting the sociopath Grumby, Granny’s killer, their revenge is wrought through the traditional Southern form of closure, bringing about the death of the killer and avenging the victim. Next, Drusilla, Bayard’s cousin, displays revenge by joining Colonel Sartoris of the Confederate army in order to avenge the death of her fiancé. By joining the Confederates, Drusilla gains the opportunity to kill the Yankee soldiers responsible for her fiancé’s death in battle. Finally, Bayard exacts vengeance upon Redmond for murdering Colonel John Sartoris, Bayard’s father. However, Bayard achieves his goal of seeking revenge in a nonviolent way, avoiding killing anyone, breaking the traditional Southern code of revenge. Each character struggles with the necessity to avenge the death of their loved ones, seeking the ultimate, most appropriate punishment for the murderer who harms their family.
First, Bayard and Ringo take vengeance upon Grumby. Uncle Buck also joins them, exclaiming, “'Need me or not,' he hollered, 'by Godfrey, I'm going. You can’t stop me. You mean to tell me you don't want me to go with you?'" (Faulkner 159). This displays Uncle Buck’s need for the death of Grumby, and his fel necessity in taking part protrudes. When Bayard and Ringo succeed in killing Grumby, Uncle Buck congratulates them for avenging Granny and fulfilling family obligation.
"’The proof and the expiation!’ Uncle Buck hollered. ‘When me and John Sartoris and Drusilla rode up to that old compress, the first thing we see was that murdering scoundrel pegged out on the door to it like a coon hide, all except the right hand. ‘And if anybody wants to see that too,' I told John Sartoris, 'just let them ride into Jefferson and look on Rosa Millard's grave!' Ain’t I told you he is John Sartoris' boy? Hey? Ain’t I told you?’" (Faulkner 186)
Uncle Buck launches the idea that Bayard will fill Colonel Sartoris’ shoes. He adores Colonel Sartoris just as Bayard does, confirming Bayard’s high admiration for his father. Taking vengeance upon Grumby and avenging Granny’s death demonstrates Bayard’s first act as the head of the family, beginning to show his inheritance of the family for taking responsibility. Not only does attaching Grumby’s hand to Granny Millard’s grave acknowledge her beloved position in the family and deems her burial safe and peaceful, but also symbolizes the growth and potential Bayard possesses for leadership. Bayard performs this act of revenge traditionally, following the true Southern code by killing personally the murderer of his loved one.
Second, Drusilla avenges her beloved’s death. Drusilla sacrifices everything to take vengeance for her fiancé, breaking the Southern code of female gentility by spending the night with the soldiers and fighting in the Civil War. She...