Barn Burning By William Faulkner Essay Research

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Barn Burning By William Faulkner Essay, Research Paper “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 kin and “they”, into which he lumps all the rest of mankind and this division relates to his son ’s crisis (to be related to the problem of identification too). The physical description we are given about the father is always presented through the eyes of his son. The father really seems to be a kind of ghost which would come in no matter the place (”his father’s foot were gone”, “the silhouette was standing over him” (p.172). Recurrent images dominate his

description: first, blackness and rigidity, “in his black Sunday coat” (p.163), “the stiff black coat” (p.164), “a shape black” (p.166),”the stiff black back” (p.168), the stiff and implacable limp” (p.170), the stiff foot (p.172 and 179). At times, he proves to be a passive figure but metallic imagery and a sense of cold violence are also used in his portrait : “his father had said no word yet” (p.162), “his voice cold and harsh”, “the harsh, cold voice” (p.164), “the voice harsh like tin” (p.166), “His father had not spoke again. He did not speak again” (p.170), “his foot striking…it carried” (p.p. 172-173). It happens that the same words are used to describe different characters. We find in the description of the characters the same

way to repeat things. For instance, the same words are used to depict the father and his older son who then seems to be the spitting image of that one. The older son has accepted his fate; his father passed on the torch to him; this can be seen with the phrase:” His father handed the reins to the older son” p.167. All the members of the family are submitted to the father’s will, whether it be Sarty, his mother, his aunt, his brother and his sisters. They are passive figures who embody a total lack of willingness. They remain inscrutable and they indicate no desires throughout the story. We can note that each character (in the family) seems to have his double: the father with the older son, the twin sisters, the mother and her sister; most of the time, Sarty shows