The Unvanquished

Bayard's Guns

The appearance of guns in Bayard's story in The Unvanquished personify turning points in his life, and each of these events holds remarkable significance in the journey as a whole. Bayard's encounters with firearms parallel his journey from adolescence to adulthood, from old to new, from son of the Sartoris to the Sartoris himself.

Bayard first encounters a gun in the novel as he and Ringo decide to shoot at a passing Yankee. Faulkner describes the scene as an awkward and juvenile one: the boys knock down furniture trying to reach the Sartoris family musket and carry it “like a log, one at each end, running” (26). They then work together to cock the gun and recklessly fire upon the soldier, as they have seen John Sartoris do many times. To the boys, this act is no different than playing with toy soldiers in the dirt. They mirror the world around them, yet by doing so recognize something monumental about the occasion—right before preparing the shot, Bayard asks Ringo twice “Do you want to be free?” (26). As ironic as these connotations may be, considering the Yankees' ultimate role in freeing the slaves, something in Bayard recognizes the connection between killing and creating freedom. His young spirit relishes in...

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