The Unvanquished

William Faulkner
Characters

Granny Millard

Characters Granny Millard

In her own way Granny is as heroic as Colonel Sartoris, but her heroism feels more intimate and human. Colonel Sartoris's greatness is that of blood and smoke and sabers, whereas Granny is never more heroic than when Bayard sees her silhouetted against the rain, a small old woman "little and light and dry as a stick." Granny is a constant presence in the first half of the book, and her triumphs are ordinary human ones. Moreover, her heroism emerges gradually, so that her character develops and blossoms while the colonel's is static: when she hides Bayard and Ringo under her skirts she is merely quick-witted, but when she walks up the road to the compress she carries the troubles and hopes of a whole family on her shoulders. In the middle of a war dominated by the exploits of men Granny represents an imagined ideal for women, brave and resourceful rather than helpless and soft.

Granny's death is a crippling blow to the moral order of her community, even though Bayard manages to set things right for a time by avenging her death. She confidently tells Bayard that no man, especially not a former Confederate soldier like Grumby, could possibly harm a defenseless woman, but even this central tenet of the Southern code has vanished with the war. More indirectly she is betrayed by Ab Snopes, a likeable ne'er-do-well who cares more for profit than for honor or morality. In the universe of Yoknapatawpha County, the Snopeses will only become more powerful and numerous with time, leaving the world smaller and pettier behind them.