Understanding literary elements such as patterns, reader/writer relationships, and character choice are critical in appreciating William Faulkner's Barn Burning. Some literary elements are small and almost inconsequential while others are large and all-encompassing: the mother's broken clock, a small and seemingly insignificant object, is used so carefully, extracting the maximum effect; the subtle, but more frequent use of dialectal words which contain darker, secondary meanings; the way blood is used throughout the story in many different ways, including several direct references in the familial sense; how Faulkner chooses to write about poor, common people (in fact to the extreme) and how this relates to the opinions of Wordsworth and Aristotle; and finally, the relationship between the reader and writer, Faulkner's choice of narrator and point of view, and how this is works successfully.
One of the formal choices Faulkner uses is the clock, the dowry of Sarty's mother, which does not work. On a simple level, the clock represents the Snopes' poverty, being all her parents could offer the newlyweds, and the only fancy object ever mentioned in the Snopes' possession. More important, however, is that it does not work-symbolizing the brokenness of their relationship and her happiness. To obtain the maximum effect, Faulkner mentions the mother's unhappiness directly after the clock:
...the clock inlaid with mother-of-pearl, which would not run, stopped at some fourteen minutes past two o'clock of a dead and forgotten time, which had been his mother's dowry. She was crying....(Faulkner 4)
Her unhappiness is justified in the story by Abner's treatme...
... middle of paper ...
...reates a more complex frame of ideals and virtues than would otherwise be believable in an uneducated ten year old boy.
By reading closely and paying attention to details, I was able to get so much more out of this story than I did from the first reading. In short, this assignment has greatly deepened my understanding and appreciation of the more complex and subtle techniques Faulkner used to communicated his ideas in the story.
Faulkner, William. Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner, The Modern Library, New York, 1993.
Smith, James Harry; Parks, Edd Winfield. The Great Critics, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, ?.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ, 1993.
Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 6th Ed. Harcourt Brace College Publishers, Fort Worth, 1993.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The term “blood brothers” usually refers to two or more males who accept each other and have decided to create a bond by fusing one another’s blood together; this would mean that these males chose to be bonded. But when it comes to ones own bloodline, it is not possible to choose ones parents. For this reason, one must learn to analyze what is right and wrong, even if it’s not something the parent(s) want him to believe. In William Faulkner’s short story Barn Burning, loyalty versus righteousness is one of the struggles in the father-son relationship between Abner and his youngest son Sarty.... [tags: Short Story Analysis, Literary Analysis]
602 words (1.7 pages)
- William Faulkner's Barn Burning William Faulkner, recognized as one of the greatest writers of all time, once made a speech as he accepted his Nobel prize for writing in which he stated that a great piece of writing should contain the truths of the heart and the conflicts that arise over these truths. These truths were love, honor, pity, pride, compassion and sacrifice. Truly it would be hard to argue that a story without these truths would be considered even a good story let alone a great one.... [tags: Faulkner Barn Burning]
1247 words (3.6 pages)
- Written as it was, at the ebb of the 1930s, a decade of social, economic, and cultural tumult, the decade of the Great Depression, William Faulkner's short story "Barn Burning" may be read and discussed in our classrooms as just that--a story of the '30s, for "Barn Burning" offers students insights into these years as they were lived by the nation and the South and captured by our artists. This story was first published in June of 1939 in Harper's Magazine and later awarded the 0. Henry Memorial Award for the best short story of the year.... [tags: Barn Burning Essays]
2222 words (6.3 pages)
- Crossing the Line in Faulkner's Barn Burning The American author Joyce Carol Oats, in her Master Race, wrote that "our enemy is by tradition our savior" (Oats 28). Oats recognized that we often learn more from our enemy than from ourselves. Whether the enemy is another warring nation, a more prolific writer, or even the person next door, we often can ascertain a tremendous amount of knowledge by studying that opposite party. In the same way, literature has always striven to provide an insight into human nature through a study of opposing forces. Often, simply by looking at the binary operations found in any given text, the texts meanings, both hidden and apparent, can become surpri... [tags: Barn Burning Essays]
969 words (2.8 pages)
- Abner and Sarty Snopes The nature of the relationship between father and son in William Faulkner's Barn Burning is displayed in the first paragraph of the story. In general a father-son relationship would be built on genuine respect, love, loyalty, and admiration. These building blocks were absent in Abner and Sarty Snopes relationship. Sarty's loyalty to his father appeared to come from a long time fear of the consequences of not obeying his father's commands. The "nigger" that could place the blame on Abner was not to be found.... [tags: Barn Burning Essays]
637 words (1.8 pages)
- Michael Meyer suggests that the description of the de Spain mansion in paragraph 41 of "Barn Burning" reveals Sarty's conflict. What does this mansion represent in Sarty's mind. How does that symbolism conflict with Sarty's being loyal to his father. The description of the house helps to frame the main conflicts that Sarty had with his father by making sure that you (the reader) know that this is the first time that Sarty has seen anything like this house. It causes his feelings of happiness to flow from him, and he feels that nothing that his father could do could destroy the place that he sees, as he thinks in paragraph 41 about "the spell of this place and dignity renderin... [tags: Barn Burning Essays]
1202 words (3.4 pages)
- Character in William Faulkner's Barn Burning The use of concise imagery and brilliant description in William Faulkner's "Barn Burning" gives depth and familiarity to his two main characters. It is the poignant story of a boy's inner struggle between his inherent sense of right and the constricting bonds of blood which tie him to his evil, domineering father and pathetic family. Faulkner often attributes to his characters animal-like qualities or compares them to elements of the earth (that he loves and knows so well).... [tags: Barn Burning Essays]
595 words (1.7 pages)
- Barn Burning: Family vs. Morality The theme of Faulkner's "Barn Burning" is Sarty Snopes's desire to break away from the oppressive conditions of his family life. Sarty gains this freedom when he decides to warn the de Spains because his father's violation of his own sort of morality liberates him from what he calls the "pull of blood," or duty to his family. The narrator describes Sarty's father, Abner Snopes, as such: "There was something about his wolf-like independence and even courage .... [tags: Barn Burning Essays]
551 words (1.6 pages)
- 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.... [tags: The Barn Burning William Faulkner Essays]
995 words (2.8 pages)
- An Analysis of Faulkner's Barn Burning and Shingles for the Lord In "Barn Burning," Faulkner's usual style of long sentences and detailed descriptions continues. Although the run on sentences are not quite as complicated or abundant as those of the other Faulkner works we have read, I still found myself wondering to some extent what the story was really about. Was it just about a bitter man's spitefulness toward Colonel de Spain as a result of his jealousy of the colonel's status. Or was there more to it.... [tags: Barn Burning Shingles for the Lord]
463 words (1.3 pages)