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Essay on Analysis of The Barn Burning by William Faulkner

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Analysis of The Barn Burning by William Faulkner


The short story “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner is about a ten year
old boy, Sarty Snopes, who has grown to realize that his father, Abner
Snopes, provides a life of “despair and grief” as he refuses to
accept the “peace and dignity” generated by the ties with other
people. In essence, Sarty is faced with the dilemma of choosing
between his family (his blood) and moral conscience of what is right
and wrong.

Jane Hiles interprets this story to be about blood ties through Sartys
character in dealing with his internal conflict with his father. More
specifically, Jane Hiles refers to Abners statement, Jane Hiles refers
to Abners statement to Sarty, i.e. “You’re getting to be a man. You
got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any
blood to stick to you.” I agree with Jane Hiles in her interpretation
as the story clearly demonstrates Sarty’s struggle to find a means in
which to accept his father for the way he is as he does not want to
betray his family by breaking the code, i.e “feeling of blood, of
clan, blood for blood”, but his conscience can’t accept wrongdoing
against others. Abner’s character pursues an “antisocial pattern” and
“alienation from society in order to clan his family with the idea
that family stick together by “defending his own blood whether it be
right or wrong” as suggested in Faulkner’s appraisal of “clannishness”

Abner is an unpleasant and somewhat sadistic character in that he has
a habit of hitting his mules and yet holds back on their reins,
convinced that he is correct all the time, and seeks revenge to get
even by burning barns, yet he is conservative with fire. Abner is
further described througho...


... middle of paper ...


...do. When Sarty was sent out
to get the oil, Sarty wanted to “run on and on and never look back”,
but instead he tried to stop his father by sidetracking him to “send a
n****r”. This caused his father to demand the mother to hold Sarty so
that he could not get away, but he did. All Sarty wanted to do was
warn the landlord, De Spain of the barn burning. Consequently two
shots were fired.

Sarty will never know if his father and brother were shot, but he does
try to keep running as the “grief and despair now no longer terror and
fear but just grief and despair”, and breaks the blood tie from his
family as he no longer wishes to suffer from his fathers actions.

Regardless of Sartys decision to run away, he still cares for his
family, including his father, but he realizes what his father does is
wrong and he wants no part of it, even if its his own blood.


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