The Unvanquished Courage Essay

898 words - 4 pages

In the end of “The Unvanquished,” Bayard and John Sartoris both choose to act with nonviolence; however, they are radically different. The fundamental difference between Bayard and John Sartoris is their definition of courage. Bayard is mostly influenced by Granny’s obedience of the chivalric code, devotion to the family, willingness to help others and her desire for peace. While John Sartoris believes that courage is battling one’s fears by eliminating them, Bayard interprets courage as being able to get over a grudge and do what’s better for the family. Granny’s guidance throughout Bayard’s life influences his interpretation of courage in which he balances the chivalric code of Southern men with compassion and sensitivity as opposed to the self-destructing interpretation of John Sartoris.
The fundamental difference between John and Bayard is their interpretation of courage. While Bayard gradually develops his interpretation of courage as being able to be devoted to the family, follow the chivalric code as well as help others, John defines courage as being able to get rid of hindrances instead of facing them. John kills the carpetbaggers in fear that the “patent from Washington [organizing] the niggers into Republicans” (Faulkner, 199) would succeed, demonstrating his courage of killing hindrances as he could have injured them and had his men kick them out instead since he had “six or eight white men” (206). When being tired of killing men becomes a hindrance, John upholds his interpretation of courage and tells Bayard that “tomorrow, when [he] go to town and meet Ben Redmond, [he] shall be unarmed” (232) knowing he is going to die so that he can rid himself of the hindrance. Even to the end of his life, he still stands with the courage of ridding hindrances.
Contrary to John’s courage to destroy the hindrances, Granny emphasizes the importance of being morally righteous and following the code throughout Bayard’s life. She reinforces the moral uprightness in Bayard by telling him to repeatedly ‘[rinse] the soap from [his] mouth’ (34) when ‘[he] used obscene language’ (34) and by ‘[asking] the Lord to forgive her [after] telling [lies]’ (35). Granny’s constant reminders cause him to value the chivalric code, which he first thinks is just killing Grumby in revenge. However, later he realizes that courage isn’t all about the chivalric code and revenge, it’s more about doing what’s best for the family no matter what.
Even though moral righteousness and the chivalric code of the South are important, Granny also teaches Bayard that devotion to the family is equally important. While John shows no signs...

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