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Abner Snopes of William Faulkner’s Barn Burning Essay

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William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” is a classic story of clannishness and family loyalty. In the short story, family patriarch Abner Snopes leads his family on a taxing life of frequent traveling. Family loyalties are put to the test, and Abner ultimately is brought to justice at the end of the story. Though his son Sarty Snopes is a round and dynamic character, Abner contrastingly is a relatively flat and static character, as he depicts only a select few character traits, while resisting any notable personal change throughout the story.
One way to view Abner Snopes’ character is as a man who simply represents anger and destruction. It can be assumed that Abner’s anger stems from the time of the Civil War, when he is not fighting for the Union or the Confederates forces but instead stealing horses from both sides to sell for money. When he is shot by a Confederate officer, he is left with a crippled leg, foreshadowing his grudge against society throughout the rest of the short story: “Confederate provost's man's musket ball had taken him in the heel on a stolen horse thirty years ago” (Faulkner). Though Abner’s anger is inflamed early in his life, his method of vengeance through destruction probably is not acquired until his first barn burning. When he burns down Mr. Harris’ barn, Abner does so not only because of his anger, but also because he truly thinks he is actually imposing a sort of inevitable justice. From this point on in the story, Abner feels that destruction in the form of barn burning is justified in his mission of vengeance against the society that has so viciously slighted him. Abner becomes a dangerous dog without a leash. He actually seems willing to seek out confrontations, fueling the fire in his ...


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...entiate him from the men that he himself despises. The way he treats his family does not necessarily reflect positively on his moral values.
Though Abner is seen as a flat and static character, there is more to his character than you can conceivably imagine. There is a certain relative unknown about him helps bring interest to his character. Abner’s anger and path of destruction is evident of a man who is deeply disturbed but the reader is still left with questions over the morality of the man’s situation. While his family life is not admirable, Abner can be seen as a supreme villain or victim in the context of the story. Abner’s personality itself turns out to be his ultimate tragic flaw however and when Abner fails to change over the course of the story, his stubborn anger leads to his ultimate demise while he is trying to carry out vengeance.








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