William Faulkner Essay

William Faulkner Essay

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Faulkner grew up in Mississippi in the beginning of the twentieth century ('William Faulkner'; 699). He was the son to Murray C. and Maud Butler Faulkner (Hoffman 13). Growing up in the South in the early 1900's meant being exposed to harsh racism. He watched the blacks endure unbelievable amounts of cruelty and was amazed at how the blacks conducted themselves with such dignity. He witnessed, first hand, what discrimination is and could not comprehend why this goes on. In many of Faulkner's works I found that he portrayed blacks as quite,easy-going, well-tempered people. He attempted to show them as heroes. It is my belief that Faulkner writes about the south because that is the subject that has affected his life most.
     Faulkner's 'Barn Burning'; takes place in the late nineteenth century South. Primarily a story about the relationship between father and son, the story presents itself through the use of symbolism. The most vital sign being fire. The fire is much like the main character in the story, Abner. Both Abner and the fire are uncontrollable and destroy anything in its way, having respect for nothing. Sarty, Abner's son, dislikes what his father does out of acts of hate and tries to stop it (Faulkner 'Barn'; 23). He attempts to put out the 'fire'; inside his father. He is sick of his family's way of life and is ready for a change no matter what it takes, even if it means going against his own blood. No matter what is done, they can not stop Abner from lashing out and burning buildings. Through his sheer enjoyment of the negative sides of his anger and power, Abner rips his family apart. He does so by forcing his family to put up with the consequences of his actions. In a way, Faulkner writes as a moralist. He demonstrates, through his character Abner, why a reasonable approach to adversity and letdowns is necessary, to avoid allowing one's problems to get so bad that they can engulf the subject like an inferno. In this story Mrs. DeSpain's 'nigger'; acts loyally and tries to save his owner's animals from the fire that were in the barn. Faulkner's book 'Intruder in the Dusk,'; is the story of a Negro, Lucas Beauchamp, who is wrongfully accused of murder by many whites in the town of Jefferson Mississippi. Instead of telling everyone that he not the murderer, he actually pretends to be the killer and wishes to be innocent...


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...and half-Negro (Faulkner 'Bear'; 65). The theme of this particular story is Ike maturing and following his southern traditions. He grew up to become an excellent hunter that showed respect for his fellow hunters as well as the wilderness. As John Lyndenberg wrote, 'The hunters from Jefferson are gentlemen and sportsmen, representing the ideals of the old order at its best, the honor,dignity, and courage of the South'; (Lyndenberg 385).
     As hard as it may be at times to read Faulkner's writings, I believe that it is well worth the effort. I found some of his writings, particularly his early ones, difficult to understand because he sometimes changes tense in the middle of a sentence and he also seems to enjoy writing with a Southern accent which does not make his writings any easier to read. For example in 'The Bear'; and in "Barn Burning,'; Faulkner consistently uses 'hit'; instead of 'it.'; He has a very down to Earth theme throughout his works: The theme being the coming of age type issue. All the stories I wrote about contain this maturing theme in one way or another. Faulkner is both a writer and a teacher-there is much to learn from his works.

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