The Perspective of a Child in William Faulkner’s The Unvanquished

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The Perspective of a Child in William Faulkner’s The Unvanquished In the novel The Unvanquished, by William Faulkner, the story of a child’s journey from boyhood to manhood is told through the perspective of an adult reflecting upon the past. Faulkner uses the narrator of the novel, Bayard Sartoris, to recall numerous experiences and portray intricate details that involve time, place, and setting through several techniques of writing. Language, empirical knowledge, and tone play a major role in the readers understanding of the perspective of which the story is told. Faulkner is a master of using language as a means of giving the reader clues to what is going on in the story: subliminally and in the perspective of a child. Many times throughout the novel, he uses a tone of voice in which the reader understands that the narrator is a naive boy who is oblivious to his surroundings and what is going on in “reality.” At an early age Bayard and his playmate, a black lad named Ringo, see the world as an adventure and often bring these characteristics of imagination into real life situations. For example, the boys shoot a “Yank” (literally) in an almost playful way, which is quite similar to the way in which they play in their living quarters daily. The way in which Faulkner describes these events through the narrator tells the reader that Bayard is unaware of the consequences of his action and that he is being compelled to do things such as shooting a “Yank” based on the influence of his Father and Grandmother rather than on his own accord. The manner in which Bayard goes about his actions is very childlike and Faulkner uses naivety and the ability for the child not to think for himself to portray age. On the other hand, the reader is also aware that someone with a great deal of empirical knowledge narrates the story. Many times Faulkner uses subtle asides that give the reader more clues of the narrator’s demeanor and understanding of his surroundings. Faulkner uses phrases like, “to a twelve years old,” that tell the reader that someone with understanding and experience is speaking to directly to the reader. Within the same breath the reader is reminded that a child is actually telling the story. Faulkner chooses to make these two voices coalesce in a way to show more than one perspective and not be limited in the mind of a child.

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