Rosa Millard

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Rosa Millard
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Millard, Rosa
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Rosa Millard - "Granny" to two boys, one white and one black - is one of Faulkner's most formidable old women. As John Sartoris' mother-in-law, she runs his plantation while he's away fighting in the Civil War. She is the central figure in four of the Unvanquished stories, and her death provides the occasion for a fifth, "Vendee"; several years after collecting those stories into The Unvanquished, Faulkner returned to her in the short story "My Grandmother Millard and General Bedford Forrest and the Battle of Harrykin Creek." This story provides the most information about her life before she became part of the Sartoris family: her husband owned a "supply house" in Memphis, where the guests at her table included Forrest, who was at the time a slave trader (688). In many ways she represents the ideal of the plantation mistress as imagined by the eulogists of slavery: she treats both the children and the slaves at Sartoris with firmness, and a kind of fond exasperation for their misbehavior - though she is quite severe with any slaves, including one on the plantation and the many whom she takes temporary charge of in "Raid," who think they should be free from masters like herself. On the other hand, she allows Ringo, the slave who calls her "Granny," to become the second-in-command of her bloodless but dishonest campaign to make the Union troops in Mississippi provide for her family as well as the larger population of Yoknapatawpha. She displays a command of traditionally feminine roles - teaching correct behavior and nurturning the community as well as sewing, cooking and gardening - but she proves equally up to the new challenges brought home by the war: she even shows General Forrest how to maintain command of his troops. But one can read the arc of her narrative in The Unvanquished more critically, as the record of her decline from a genteel, morally upright southern lady to one who is willing to lie, cheat, and even steal as the world around her is threatened with collapse.