Analysis of Barn Burning by William Faulkner

Analysis of Barn Burning by William Faulkner

Length: 1202 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
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 rendering even the barns and stable and cribs which belong to it impervious to the puny flames that he might contrive". This majestic sight for Sarty causes him to realize what his father is and what life path that he is going down, as it is described in paragraph 89: "...this the old habit, the old blood which he had not been permitted to choose for himself". The description of the house gives Sarty a new insight on what his father had been doing, and because this is first time he has experienced the act of actually seeing his father do the damage first hand himself (paragraph 90: "At least you sent a nigger before!"), the guilt of the action weighed heavily upon him and it questioned the loyalty he had to his father.

Michael Meyer asks you to guess what happened to Abner and Flem (the older brother) Snopes at de Spain's barn. Whether Abner and his older son live or die influences the tone of the last paragraph.
How does Sarty seem to feel at the end of the story? In particular, look at the images and wording of the last paragraph to figure out his feelings, and mention them in your answer.
     I believe that the Sarty's father and brother are shot at the end of the story. The last paragraph in context to my response to the last question feels like the boy is worn out from the worry of his responsibilty to stop his father. He is tired too because he did not succeed and is walking on into the woods like he thought he could before when running to fetch the oil from the barn.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Analysis of Barn Burning by William Faulkner." 15 Oct 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Critical Analysis of Barn Burning by William Faulkner

- Critical Analysis of Barn Burning by William Faulkner The story of "Barn Burning" was "first published in the June of 1939 in the Harper's Magazine and later awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award for the best short story of the year." The author, William Faulkner, "was one of America's most innovative novelists". The way he describes the smells, sites and sounds of the rural late 1800's make you feel as if you are there with the characters in this story. Through the use of symbolism, Faulkner tells the story about a relationship of a father and son....   [tags: Barn Burning William Faulkner Essays]

Research Papers
1230 words (3.5 pages)

Analysis of Barn Burning by William Faulkner Essay

- 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]

Free Essays
1202 words (3.4 pages)

William Faulkner’s Barn Burning: Abner Snopes Character Analysis Essay

- William Faulkner’s short story “Barn Burning” describes a typical relationship between wealthy people and poor people during the Civil War. The main character, Abner Snopes, sharecrops to make a living for his family. He despises wealthy people. Out of resentment for wealthy people, he burns their barns to get revenge. Abner’s character over the course of the story is unchanging in that he is cold hearted, lawless, and violent. First, Abner’s unchanging character shows his cold heartedness. After being sentenced to leave the country for burning a man’s barn, he shows no emotions to his family....   [tags: Essays on Barn Burning]

Research Papers
1045 words (3 pages)

Barn Burning by William Faulkner Essay examples

- William Faulkner is a writer from Mississippi. Faulkner is a very famous writer with most of his most famous works being short stories. Two of his most popular short stories are “A rose for Emily” along with “Barn Burning”. Faulkner has many other popular works, but “Barn Burning” was one of his well-known stories because of the many different of elements of literature in which Faulkner chose to include. Faulkner was known as a writer who could properly convey many different elements of literature, such as symbolism, conflict, tone, and many other elements of plot within his stories....   [tags: literary analysis]

Research Papers
1042 words (3 pages)

Barn Burning by William Faulkner Essay

- In the tale Barn Burning, the author William Faulkner formally known for his short stories with a constant theme of Southern Renaissance, racism and modernism uses these themes as a constant reference throughout the story. Faulkner focuses in depth on the antagonist, Abner Snopes and his actions and how they impact other characters throughout the story. I believe Abner was continuously portrayed as a negative character throughout the short story by Abner’s aggressiveness towards everyone he comes in contact with, Faulkner’s depiction of Abner’s selfishness, and his jealousy for those around him and what he did not have....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Short Stories, Author]

Research Papers
887 words (2.5 pages)

Barn Burning Essay

- In “Barn Burning,” the author, William Faulkner, composes a wonderful story about a poor boy who lives in anxiety, despair, and fear. He introduces us to Colonel Satoris Snopes, or Sarty, a boy who is mature beyond his years. Due to the harsh circumstances of life, Sarty must choose between justice and his family. At a tender age of ten, Sarty starts to believe his integrity will help him make the right choices. His loyalty to family doesn’t allow for him to understand why he warns the De Spain family at such a young age....   [tags: Literary Analysis, William Faulkner]

Research Papers
1482 words (4.2 pages)

Barn Burning Essay

- Sarty's betrayal of his father in William Faulkner's story "Barn Burning" is justified. The reader is introduced to Sarty's father as he is being tried for burning the barn of Mr. Harris. Lacking evidence, the Justice of the Peace drops the charges against Abner Snopes, Sarty's father, and he is ordered to leave the country. A harsh image of Sarty's father is presented in the line, "he [Sarty] followed the stiff black coat, the wiry figure walking a little stiffly from where a Confederate provost's man's musket ball had taken him in the heel on a stolen horse thirty years ago" (2177)....   [tags: Literary Analysis, William Faulkner]

Free Essays
744 words (2.1 pages)

Abner Snopes of William Faulkner’s Barn Burning Essay

- 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....   [tags: Character Analysis]

Research Papers
657 words (1.9 pages)

William Falukner's Barn Burning Essay

- Background As this story opens, we find our antihero struggling to support his family as a tenement farmer in an unnamed Southern county. The story explains that some 30 years prior, Mr. Snopes was making a living as a mercenary and a fugitive horse thief during the Civil War. These facts set the story sometime around 1895, just around the end of the "Gilded Age". This was a time of significant social turmoil caused by reconstruction efforts in the South, the beginnings of an economic boom in the North, a massive influx of European Immigrants, and the political and social disenfranchisement of racial minority groups and the poor....   [tags: Abner Snopes, character and literary analysis]

Research Papers
1718 words (4.9 pages)

William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning”: The Destructiveness of the Human Ego Essays

- William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” symbolizes the destructiveness of the human ego through the character, Abner Snopes. Throughout the story, Snopes functions and communicates based on his own logic. He has no regard for his family, superiors, or the judicial system. His unrelenting effort to live according to what he deems as “right” creates an atmosphere of fear and oppression. Following the barn trial, Snopes’ demeanor towards his son, Colonel Sartoris, clearly demonstrates his use of fear and intimidation to gain respect and conformity within his family....   [tags: Literary Analysis]

Research Papers
973 words (2.8 pages)

Related Searches

He is free. "Wheeled on", "would be"--these phrases show signs of progression. "His breathing was easier..." ; Sarty is less stressed over his dilemma, for he can do no more. All the talk about how moving around and walking would make him feel better shows how he can resolve his problem by distancing himself from the situation.

What do you think happens to Sarty's father and brother at the end of the story? How does your response to this question affect your reading of the last paragraph?
Sarty feels that his father and brother were shot.
Sarty feels free now. He doesn't know where he is going, but he feels a sense of relief--no more fear or despair. He was thinking of what the next day would hold (i.e., hunger), which he felt walking would cure. He realized that he had been asleep for some time, and it was time to get started. He was going forward into the woods and not looking back. It appears that the scene would be sooo peaceful and inviting with the birds calling.
How does the language of the final paragraph suggest a kind of resolution to the conflicts Sarty has experienced?
He states it was almost dawn, so the night is almost over and soon there would be sun. The slow constellations "wheeled on." He was going on. The silver voices of the birds "called unceasing." He did not look back. Sarty put an end to the past and was moving forward.
Consider Sarty's hope for order and resistance to Abner's brutalization, lies, and destruction; consider Abner's guerilla tactics against sharecropping.
When I consider Sarty's hope for order revealed continually throughout by the stream of consciousness technique of the narrator at various crisis points in the story with "Maybe he's done satisfied" after barn burning at the start and "Maybe it [the de Spain house symbolic emissions of strength, safety, and beauty] will change him now from what maybe he couldn't help but be" and after the verdict of 20 bushels for the ruined rug "Maybe this is the end of it," I feel kindred to his wonder at why Abner couldn't let it all go-start over-get on with work and life.
But then that makes me compelled to examine Abner's characterization. We are not clued into Abner's motivation for his cruelty. Abner could be intimidating people and burning barns for some internal bitterness at having to work as a sharecropper but it seems to run deeper and to be too "natural" in him. While Sarty assumes it's due to war, our narrator suggests that Abner's traits were with him long before in the way he used war "for booty-it meant nothing and less than nothing to him if it were enemy booty or his own". Abner's behavior seems part or package pyromaniac, sadist and psychopath. So while he may have a perverted sense of righteousness about what he was doing, his frequency and lack of regard for anyone, "blood" or not, points more towards dysfunction.
With all we know today of abusive traits being carried on from one generation to the next, success for either Sarty or Abner is probably unlikely, but of the two I would choose Sarty. Abner's lifestyle was embedded and active, while Sarty may have had a chance to have life experiences which would alter his programming since he was still young and would be away from his father. If Sarty was miraculously able to overcome his tendencies, shown early on even when he found himself "leaping in the red haze toward the face, feeling no blow, feeling no shock when his head struck the earth ," he would probably feel successful just living and working- he was capable and enjoyed working "he had this from his mother" Whereas, not having Abner's true motivation revealed leaves us empty to determine what his goals or thoughts on "living" are. If completing the acts to as many as he could was his bizarre plan then he was successful. But he was driven, repeating the scenario over and over, seemingly not satisfied and therefore not successful.
It seems to me that Southern society as it was could produce characters like Abner. Poverty and exploitation of labor may be the most important factors in our understanding of the barn burner. He should not be acquitted, but the focus should be on the socio-economic circumstances of his time and place. If Abner seems to be simply naturally evil, it may be because the author pulled back from the radical political position that readers might find in the story.
The story is reactionary, however well written. It demonstrates the attitudes of the southern conservatives during the '30s. Ab is made into a monster in order to avert the attention from his status as an exploited worker.
Return to