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. So the question brought forward is whether Faulkner uses his own truths of the heart to make his story "Barn Burning." Clearly the answer to this question is yes; his use of the truths of the heart are prevalent
throughout the story and to illustrate this to the reader we will focus in on two of them love and pride.
There are many places throughout
the story which love clearly comes in conflict with morality, kinship, and even other truths of the heart. The first of these, and probably the most dramatic, is in the first few paragraphs of the story. A young boy named Sarty, who is the son of Abner Snopes, the barn burner of the story, is called to the stand to testify about his father's behavior. On his way to the stand the reader is clued into what the boy is thinking and it is very clear he is feircely aligned with his father or his "blood kin." As he approaches the stand Sarty has many thoughts running through his head about how the Judge is the enemy "our enemy he thought in that despair; ourn! Mine and hisn both! He's my father!" (Faulkner 161) It is clear that the love of his father is getting in the way of his thoughts of morality because he is almost willing to lie for his father. However Sarty nearly confesses that...
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...t to enter, he tells him to "get out of my way"(Faulkner 166) as he steps into the house and tracks his horse manure all over their very expensive rug. Then when the lady of the house tells him to leave he quickly obeys her after swiveling around on his heel to grind the fecal matter in even further. As he is leaving he once again makes a derogatory remark to the butler. This is probably when Abner's motivation becomes the most clear. He only feels superior to blacks in which case meant everyone else around him was somehow superior and therefore he felt as though every action they took was a threat to him and damaged his pride in himself which forced him to retaliate the only way he knew how, burning barns.
Faulkner, William. Barn Burning. Literature A Portable Anthology. Ed. Janet E
Gardner, et al. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004. 161-175
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