There is simply no ending, no moment of finality that necessitates judgment on the part of either Bayard or Faulkner.
The consistent narratological device that recurs throughout The Unvanquished, always changing uniforms and ideological loyalties, is the notion of the enemy, the Other which repeatedly threatens Bayard's life and drives the Old South's transformation into something new.
The dramatic tension of the episode arises from Bayard's recognition that while these men still considered themselves to be soldiers, the women of Jefferson are the ones who actually take up a cause and continue to fight.
Like the returning soldiers Bayard remembered at the beginning of the novel, Drusilla testifies to a distant, epistemologically uncertain reality that the war creates but which remains unreadable in the domestic discourse of the homefront.
The most confusing part of Reconstruction for Bayard is trying to reconcile the myth of his father, the great fighter of Yankees, with the new community leader willing to ally with the Yankees to ensure racial stability.
Instead, Drusilla in the final episode moves in a sense above the behaviors and personalities of Bayard, Redmond, and George Wyatt, becoming "the Greek amphora priestess of a succinct and formal violence" (219) who structures and presides over the ritual of masculine vengeance that Bayard is expected to perform.
The most dramatic moment in the narrative--the moment that most clearly reveals the impact of Bayard's decision upon his community (and, by a long extension, upon Faulkner's sense of the Southern past), is not the scene in which Bayard lets Redmond escape but the one prior to that, in which Drusilla reads his intention to do so.
Drusilla's hysterical breakdown in the face of Bayard's silent rejection of his cultural duty represents Faulkner's own dismantling of the traditional fragile interdependence between narrative violence and sexuality.
Drusilla's horror here comes largely from the fact that Bayard has desecrated her role in the story--his presumed cowardice has befouled the symbolic gesture of kissing his hand that was her only remaining responsibility in the drama.
Drusilla's hysterical reaction to Bayard's silence in this scene is more dramatic than Bayard's silent duel with Redmond, because it is here that the tradition comes apart.
(16) Bayard's decision in The Unvanquished to reject the structure of Lost Cause narrative mythology, and Faulkner's careful critical evaluation of the hollowness and deceptive fragility of that structure, marks the turning point in Faulkner's career away from psychological modernism and toward this new, less cryptic interrogation of a social activism that does not rely on a fundamentally unsustainable cultural memory.