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Barn Burning by William Faulkner - Essay Example

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“Barn Burning” Without question, one of the most discussed topics with relation to William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” is in relation to the conflict that evolves between Sartoris and his father Abner Snopes…
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Barn Burning by William Faulkner
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Download file to see previous pages However, equally powerful is Faulkner’s use of character to define, explain, and develop the conflicts that take place throughout the short story. As such, this author will work to examine these two specific aspects and draw inference on their interrelation and use within the story. The story itself opens amidst a trial that is set in the epitome of the rural dust-bowl of the mid-west. Abner Snopes stand accused of purposefully and intentionally burning the barn of his former employer. The reader is quickly made aware that the true nature of the crime is known by young Sartoris and it is soon incumbent upon him to lie to the court, as instructed by his father, in order to wrongfully acquit the accused. Unlike most stories where the denouement comes at the end, Faulkner uses this as a mechanism to provide a life-altering impression on the young Sartoris; an impression that categorically affects the way that the rest of the story progresses and has implications for how Abner Snopes will eventually be undone (Swann 132). In a way, Faulkner’s development shows the reader that the story can essentially be broken in to three distinct components. Firstly, the reader is made aware of Abner Snopes treachery and his moral deviance. Secondly, Faulkner wanders about describing each scene to the fullest while alluding back to the effect that Sartoris has come to experience as a result of the lies that have been told and the type of life that is being led. Lastly, the tension is released by Sartoris making the difficult choice to right the wrong that he had previously done. Although few might consider this story a tale of redemption, for Sartoris, it is precisely this. Haunted by the wrongs that the father continues to perpetrate and fearful of what the future consequences of these might be, Sartoris has to make the most difficult of decisions and quickly pursue honesty in order that the opening sequence of the short story will not repeat itself with respect to Abner’s short employment with de Spain. Although this conflict exists early in the story, it is the feeling and sense of conscience that troubles the young boy and makes it difficult for him to accept the result of the trial as well as to accept his role in the acquittal and to a greater extent his role within such a family. Faulkner presents a young boy who even at the tender age of 10 is uniquely aware of what is right and what is wrong (Comprone 18). Masterfully fabricated elements within the story help to develop the fact that Abner Snopes is an absolute tyrant. These include but are not limited to the beating that Sartoris faces as the family is in the process of relocating, the fact that Abner curses at his wife and instructs her not to tend to Sartoris wounds, the incident with the rug in de Spain’s house, and the final incident concerning the lantern oil. Although these can be understood as elements of conflict, they are at the same time elements of character development with relation to the way that Sartoris views his surrounds, his role in the family, and the level to which he will allow these things to continue before making a stand based on his own convictions. What is intriguing about the development of both of these themes is the fact that they are so inexorably linked. Without Sartoris clearly defined conscience, there would be little if any of a conflict between Sartoris and Abner. Without a broken family suffering under the dictatorial rule of a maniacal father, there would be little room to development on the emotions of frustration, rage, anger, regret, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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