Bayard Sartoris II

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Bayard Sartoris II
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Sartoris, Bayard II
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This Bayard Sartoris, the second on the family tree, is the son of Colonel John. In many of the eighteen texts in which he appears he is often called "Colonel Sartoris" too, even though he never fought in any war. In the larger story of Yoknapatawpha he is a transitional figure between the heroic past, when his father fought Yankees and built railroads, and modernity. His greatest achievement is to establish a bank in Jefferson, though it ultimately ends up in the hands of a Snopes. The war he carries on is not against Yankees but against time and change: at home this means beating an uppity black servant back into his place (Flags, 80); during his tenure as mayor of Jefferson, he passes an "edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron" ("A Rose for Emily," 119-20). The futility of his fight, however, is signified by the way, after his staunch antipathy to automobiles, he ends up dying as the result of an automobile accident involving a Ford. In the larger story of Faulkner's art, he is the narrator of the seven Unvanquished stories, where his young perspective is the lens through which Faulkner looks at the 'old plantation' as it is challenged by the exigencies of war and emancipation. At the (chronological) end of those stories, Bayard inherits the title of "The Sartoris" (214), and in that role suggests, with a heroism that looks less glamorous than his father's swashbuckling but is nonetheless impressive, a way to reconcile the code of the Southern aristocrat with the values of the New Testament. But by a paradox that recurs often in Faulkner, the possible future that Bayard's action might portend has already been placed in the past by the a-chronological way Faulkner tells his story: we see him first as the old man standing guard over the gestures of a lost world before we see him as the young man who might provide a way - to use a loaded term - to reconstruct his own time and place.