Family And Loyalty In William Faulkner's Barn Burning

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“Barn Burning” by William Faulkner is a short story that revolves around the frequent barn burnings carried out by Abner Snopes who is the father of a young Colonel Sartorius Snopes (Sarty). Abner in the story portrays an angry pyromaniac, who habitually conflicts with his more affluent neighbors and then burns their barns before relocating with his family (Levmore, 2). Faulkner opens the story in the middle of a trial of arson and Sartorius is called to testify. However, the victim of the arson refuses the idea of cross examining Sartorius, as he probably assumes that the son will protect his father. Snopes then goes to work on Major de Spain’s land, where he continues with his misanthropy and contempt of authority. For instance, at one…show more content…
The author vividly illustrates this conflict through Sarty – a 10 year old boy who is confronted with the dilemma of having to either chose to be loyal to his father, a blood relative, or he can chose what he believes is right. Sarty is well aware that his father’s actions are wrong, but he is constantly reminded by his father the importance of family and the responsibilities associated with being part of a family. Abner tells Sartorius, “You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to stick to you” (29). In essence, Abner tells Sarty that if he is not going to stick to his family irrespective of whether the family is right or wrong, he will have no place to turn to when in need of help. Indeed, at the end of the story, Sarty does not have anyone to turn…show more content…
He uses a series of long sentences, which are frequently interrupted with clauses. For instance, in the opening paragraph, Faulkner uses a series of long, looping sentences, which form a stream of consciousness in which a character’s present thoughts are represented. In the second sentence of the paragraph in question, Faulkner vividly represents the chaotic quality of Sartoris’s private thoughts by interrupting the flow of the sentence with clause. Therefore, not only does Faulkner relate to the non-linearity of individual thoughts, but also gives the reader a peek into Sarty’s swirling impressions, which reflect his surrounding conditions, which include fear, hunger, and guilt. The sight and smell of the foods surrounding him remind him of hunger, which leads him to also consider more abstract concerns of sadness and sustaining family loyalty (Levmore, 5). In the story, William Faulkner uses the setting to largely evoke the class distinctions that fuel Abner Snope’s resentment. One unique aspect of the setting in the “Barn Burning” is the courthouse, which is simply a store that has been turned into a place of administering justice. What augments Snopes’s perception of not being treated properly is the use of a courthouse that is not real, which serves to highlight Snopes’s status as an outsider. Perhaps he feels that his vigilante justice is being punished in a totally

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