The Creation of Abner Snopes in William Faulkner's Barn Burning

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The Creation of Abner Snopes in William Faulkner's Barn Burning

William Faulkner's "Barn Burning" is an intriguing story about a young boy named Colonel Sartoris's (Sarty) love and hatred for his father, Abner Snopes. Ab is a brutal and frightening man who instills fear into whom ever he seems to be close to. What is the cause of Abner Snopes's cruel-heartedness? Maybe it's his alienation from the higher class in society that causes him to act in this manner. When such a separation occurs in a community one can feel that he doesn't belong and because he does not belong that the only way the higher class will give him the time of day is if the person acts out and tries to prove that he doesn't need law and conventional society, much like Ab Snopes. Another possibility is that Sarty's father has not developed the intelligence to conform to societal formality. He might feel that law is unnecessary for a husband and father who can, for the most part, get by and protect his family on his own. The cold hearted side of Ab Snopes is what causes the internal conflict in Sarty. Sarty loves his father because of the simple fact that Ab is his father. No matter how evil a father is a part deep down inside, no matter how small, will always hold the door open in case that person ever decides to change. That of course is the only thing that even remotely resembles Sarty's true love for his father, because Abner Snopes does nothing but abuse anyone who ever loved him throughout the entire story. We know that he is harsh to his wife, his sons, his daughters, and even his stock, and in the end this is why Sarty betrays his father. He simply would not take it any longer.

"What we need also to summon is the terrible frustration of an unde...

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... this are what create characters in a story, characters like Abner Snopes and Sarty. They explain to you indirectly the questions that you might have, like "What the cause of Abner's cruel-heartedness is". Conflicts like Sarty's struggle within himself over the love and hatred he has for his father are created throughout the entire story, but the reader feels this conflict almost entirely through descriptive paragraphs like the one above.


DeMott, Benjamin. "Abner Snopes As A Victim Of Class." The Bedford Introduction To Literature (1996) P.430-432

Faulkner, William. "Barn Burning." The Bedford Introduction To Literature (1996) P.420

Hills, Jane. "Blood Ties in Barn Burning." The Bedford Introduction To Literature (1996) P.429-430

Wilson, Gayle Edward. "Conflict In Barn Burning." The Bedford Introduction To Literature (1996) P.432-434
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