Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 4, 2024
February 26, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes.
The Civil War is more than a setting for the novel. It is an active presence, influencing the characters' values and actions as well as the plot. The battlefield is never depicted directly, but we can see the influence of the fighting in the characters' diminishing economic fortunes, in the devastation visited on the countryside and in the lasting defiance of civilians. But despite this appearance of realism, this is not a realistic depiction of what was an unimaginably gruesome and violent war. Instead it is primarily shown as a collection of heroic exploits by Colonel Sartoris and his men, who harass the Yankees but escape without punishment. At the same time, the war calls into question the received system of Southern values; since society's traditional means of enforcing order are gone, petty interlopers like Grumby and Ab Snopes can flourish. Bayard and the other characters are responsible for ensuring that the Southern system does not vanish as a result of the trauma enveloping society. The war thus creates the crises that test Bayard and allow him to develop into an adult.
The comic passages in the novel initially contribute to the atmosphere of idyllic childhood that Bayard enjoys in the first few chapters. War is nothing more than fun and adventure for him, and the humorous tone of his scrapes is reassuring, promising that nothing will go too seriously wrong. Even seeming hardships like the burning of the house do not seriously interrupt this mood of security. Only the climax of the novel dislodges the protections of childhood, and with them the gentle humor of the early chapters. Bayard's avenging of Granny and later of Colonel Sartoris are completely humorless; even the farce of "Skirmish at Sartoris" is laced with bitterness—a knowing, ironic humor rather than the winking comedy of "Ambuscade."
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Unvanquished!