Barn Burning: An Endless Circle
William Faulkner's short story "Barn Burning" is the tale of a southern man forced into a role by society. "Barn Burning" takes place in the post Civil War South where a mans place in society is derived by their actions during the war. Ab Snopse, a man who served both the North and the South, is plagued with his non-allegiance and failure to accept authority. When Ab comes into conflict with his employer, he finds himself taking control from the authority figure, and reverting back to his mercenary ways. Having no allegiance, Ab makes the move from helping hand to the enemy by burning down barns.
Along with many of Faulkner's short stories, "Barn Burning" is set in the imaginary Mississippi county of Yoknapatawpha. During the restoration of the South, the time period following the Civil War, the only thing that kept the South alive and running where the memories of fallen heroes and the belief that the South would someday regain the status that it had once held.
Families like the Sartorises and the de Spains were glorified and praised for honors that their family members had achieved during battle. The honor that families like these were granted placed them in public offices, and gave them opportunities to prosper where others could only dream about. This same honor seemed to carry on to those who shared the names of the great war heroes. "'Hey', the Justice said. 'Talk louder. Colonel Sartoris? I reckon anybody named for Colonel Sartoris in this county can't help but tell the truth, can they?'" (Kennedy 163).
On the other hand, the Snopses are viewed as dishonorable. During the war, Ab Snopse was considered a mercenary for serving both sides of the way.