Two of the women from this novel deserve utmost respect. Granny and Drusilla took matters into their own hands, and are an inspiration to many women who read this novel. Strong women like them were unusual during this time period. Granny and Drusilla are in no way “picture-perfect southern belles”, yet they took what they had at the time and the experience that was given to them and represented true southern women. Granny was a strong woman of this period; she understood how things worked, and was smart enough to know how to manipulate things to her advantage. “’Bayard Sartoris, what did you say’? We killed him Granny! ’ …Then she said, ‘Quick! Here! ’… and then Ringo and I were squatted with our knees under our chins, on either side of her against her knees…her skirts spread over us like a tent…’You are mistaken,’ she said, ‘There are no children here. ’”) [Faulkner 30-31] This is a shorten version of the quote. The scenario is when Bayard and Ringo shoot at the Yankee soldier on a horse. They hit the horse instead of the man, though they are unaware of this fact. They run home shrieking at Granny to help them, so she has them hide underneath her skirt.
The soldier comes in; then the Colonel comes in. The whole situation puts Granny in a bad position, because she’s a good, southern, God fearing woman, and the only way out of this predicament is to lie to the Yankee Colonel who comes in after Bayard and Ringo. Both Granny and the Colonel know there Bayard and Ringo are, but a gentleman doesn’t ask a lady to get up like that without good cause. Granny knew she could play this to her advantage. Granny sits there completely poker-faced and flat out tells him there are no children. The coronel simply jokes about the children and leaves.
This is just one example of how Granny took a problem into her own hands and took care of it, with no man needed. She didn’t know who was going to be coming through those doors, it could have been dangerous; however, she handled the situation with grace and elegance, never skipping a beat. Granny showed great responsibility and courage when she had the idea to use the money and slaves to get mules from the Yankees. She turned the original mix-up into a smuggling business: she showed true genius in a time of real need. “’Ten chests tied with hemp rope,’…’a hundred and ten mules’…’Get what we got.
Hurry’. He turned to Granny. ‘The general said to give you another hundred with his compliments’” [Faulkner 88-89] Again, another abbreviated lengthy quote. What’s happening here is Granny never got her exact box of silver back, but she was reimbursed for the silver. The Yankee in command gave her a slip with an order for a large amount of mules. When Granny and Ringo go to get them, the soldier they speak to doesn’t understand, and gets the entire transaction mixed up. Granny turned this unexpected occurrence into a blessing and opportunity to turn a profit and give the mules to the townspeople.
Most of what originally occurred was a miscommunication; however, Granny and Ringo simultaneously recognized what was happening and took advantage of it. “The man counted the mules; we didn’t hardly move…”Forty-seven will do,” said Ringo… and then all of a sudden she took her hand away from her chest; it had the paper in it; she held it out to the lieutenant without saying a word. ” [Faulkner 91-93] Granny had the courage to risk getting caught, and continued to play the same con numerous times after, forging the note each time.
She was a woman; an older woman at that, but she desperately wanted to somehow make a contribution to the war effort and also help out the community as best she could. The war devastated the south, and changed many things. If she could somehow right some of the wrongs that had been done to the people, while at the same time hindering the Yankees, it could be a step toward putting things back the way they were. Because Granny had been around as long as she had, she was a huge believer in tradition. She was stubbornly trying to preserve a community and take care of them, much like a mother takes care of her family.
Many people enjoy discussing Drusilla, due to her unusual behavior and intrigue of the character. Drusilla wasn’t the average run-of-the-mill housewife; she had hopes and aspirations; goals and a set agenda. She didn’t wait around for a man to help her; if she wanted something done, she did it herself. “’This horse? ’ Cousin Denny said. ‘Ain’t no damn Yankee going to fool with Dru’s horse no more. ’ He didn’t holler now, but pretty soon he began again: ‘When they come to burn the house, Dru grabbed the pistol and rum out here-she had on her Sunday dress-and them right behind her.
She run in here and she jumped on Bobolink bareback, without even waiting for the bridle, and one of them right there in the doorway hollering, ‘Stop’, and Dru said, ‘get away, or I’ll ride you down too’ …and Dru leaned down into Bobolinks ear and said, ‘Kill him, Bob’ [Faulkner 74] Drusilla didn’t stop to think of her own safety, or to wait for a man to step forward and assist; she acted out of courage and loyalty and attacked the men head on, knowing they were men and most likely stronger and better fighters. Drusilla portrays a strong, independent woman, with feministic qualities.
Drusilla is a symbol of what is to come; she symbolizes strong women fighting for themselves, equality, and recognition. “She had on pants like a man” [Faulkner 73] “Her hair was cut short; it looked like father’s would… She was sunburned and her hands were hard and scratched like a man’s that works would”. [Faulkner 75] It is apparent in other parts of the book that Drusilla didn’t always dress in a masculine fashion; when she was engaged to Gavin Breckbridge, she wore dresses and would have most likely lived out a stereotypical “southern bell” life, unworthy of remembrance.
By this point in the book; however, we find Drusilla to be dressing like a man and attempting to take on more responsibilities and be more useful to the war effort. She commissioned herself to engage in manual labor, causing one sign of being a southern belle (soft smooth hands) to fade. Working hard was also a part of her own unique chivalric code of honor she took on, further distancing herself from her old life. High society women could afford to be shaded from the sun at all times; thus never resulting in sunburn.
Poor whites were generally associated with having tan skin, while rich white women had fair porcelain skin-also a showing the segregation between poor people and wealthy people, as well as slaves. In the case of Drusilla being sunburned, it’s another segregating aspect allowing her to create a more equal atmosphere at which to fit into. Her unintentional idea was to appear less feminine; also creating a physical freeness at which she can move around and work more easily.
Indirectly she also wanted to draw less attention to herself. She got the opposite effect: her change in appearance caused her to stand out as a new kind of person: a strong woman, purposefully surviving without a man. In this exquisite novel, so many different interpretations can be read from its intricately woven plot. These two women, Granny and Drusilla, went through quite a few trials and tribulations to become the much-respected women they were in the end. (Word count: 1,393)