Barn Burning Summary

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The author focuses on the relationship between Abner Snopes (Ab), a sharecropper, and his ten-year-old son, Sarty, as dictated by the socioeconomic factors of the community.

Abner is depicted as a virulently angry man who embarks on burning barns as revenge for real or imagined injustices.

With the help of a range of rather simple literature devices, as well as with quire a simple plot, Faulkner manages not only to develop an intriguing narrative, but also to provide sufficient foil for the further character growth, leaving the readers on a cliff hanger at the very end of the short novel.

In writing ‘Barn Burning’, Faulkner employed a very straightforward plot. By so doing, he impels his son prematurely toward manhood when he (Sarty) must choose between the dictates of his own conscience and his father’s frontier justice. It begins with a dawning awareness of the bondage of blood ties and ends with a forceful assertion of independence.

The reader’s interest is stimulated by the desire to know what the boy will do and why.

The author uses a setting that out rightly evokes the social status of the key parties in the story.It is characterized by the presence of the wealthy landowners and the comfortable lives that they live as opposed to the Snopes’ family that does not have a permanent place to stay.To earn a living, the Snopes’ family has to work in the plantations of the land owning families as sharecroppers.One of these issues concerns the subject of crimes and the motivations of criminals.Indeed, while in certain cases, there is nothing behind a crime than a sick mind, most of the time, criminals appear to be completely sane and, therefore, are motivated by certain outside factors. ) stood, but he could hear them, the two of them that is, because his father had said no word yet” (Faulkner 1).This includes the narrator, the ten-year-old traumatized Sarty and the mature Sarty whom the narrator makes recall his tormented childhood twenty years later.The narrator has a sophisticated, intellectual and very poetic presence throughout the story.The social differences play a pivotal role in causing Abner to start avenging for the injustices of the society (Hamblin and Hamblin xi).He begins to burn the barns of the wealthy landowners.Making the readers consider the social factors which induced the lead character, notorious Abner Snopes, Faulkner does not reveal these factors himself – he describes the setting, the environment in which the character lives, the ideas that occasionally rush through his mind, and the few interactions which he has in his daily life, mostly with his son and his neighbors: “He could not see the table where the Justice sat and before which his father and his father’s enemy (our enemy he thought in that despair; ourn! Thus, the reader is immediately immersed into the atmosphere of a dull, good-for-nothing life, which finally drives Abner to a rebellion.At this point, it becomes obvious that the novel is more than just a story of two crimes and a treachery; it is a study of human nature, in its ugliness and naivety.


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