Barn Burning by William Faulkn

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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"Barn Burning" by William Faulkner "Barn Burning " describes the development of Colonel Sartoris Snopes (Sarty) with his coming to manhood and the concomitant rejection of his father (Mr Snopes). From the beginning of the story, we witness the growing conflict between the two characters which is identified from the beginning of the text with the boy's anxiety.

Nevertheless, through this latent emotional (and physical) rebellion, what the boy comes through is the discovery of evil, embodied by the patriarchal figure whose destructive will seems to control everyone and everything. This desperate situation tears the boy in two because he doesn't seem able to chose between "the old fierce of blood" ( the fidelity to his father) and his thrust towards justice and truth.

We will see that "Barn Burning" is actually the story of an initiation that will lead to the boy's final refusal to help and support his father.

By denouncing this one, Sarty will claim his own individuality and will gain his independence and freedom.

The opposition of sharecropper (Mr Snopes) and aristocrat (Mr de Spain) suggests social implications. Several elements refer to this possibility. The father points out that de Spain's house is built with "nigger sweat" as well as the white sweat of the sharecropper. He seems to view himself as a victim of an unfair socio-economic system: he "burns with a ravening and jealous rage."(p.169), he is the "element of fire", the narrator speaks to "some deep mainspring" of Mr Snopes being "as the element of steel or powder spoke to other men, as one weapon for the preservation of integrity ...used with discretion."(p.166).

The father does not make any discrimination between the rich and the poor. For him, there are only two categories of people: blood...