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Barn Burning Essay Research Paper Barn Burning 2

Barn Burning Essay, Research Paper

?Barn Burning? by William Faulkner was written in the

ebb of the 1930?s in a decade of social, economic, and

cultural decline. This story offers insight into the past

years for students to learn of the nation and the South.

This story shows the racial segregation that took place in

these times between the white landowners and white tenant

farmers, the blacks and the whites, and the poor white trash

class and the blacks.

The Snopes?s family was in the social class of the

poor, white tenant farmers. The father, Abner Snopes, had

to struggle to provide for his family. In the family there

were the mother and her sister, two daughters, and two sons.

The older son, Flem, worked with Abner, and the younger son,

Sarty, helped with the chores. Sarty, along with others, had

trouble understanding his father?s way of life and his

attitude towards society. Abner was a harsh man. His

crusade as a sharecropper exploited his inner feelings of

resentment towards the landowners. Having little or no

patience with each new situation, he resorted to the only

thing that he was diligently, effectively good at, burning

barns. His insensitivity to his family, landowners, their

families, and especially the blacks depicted him as a menace

to society. Pictured as ?poor, white trash?, Abner?s

struggle to be better than the ?nigger? race was a never-

ending battle, always ending in defeat. He invariably

resorted to retrieving some sort of satisfaction by

destroying wealthy landowners property, barns. Abner?s

inability to rise above the label of ?poor, white trash? led

to his demise as a functional part of society. He used the

barn burnings as a way of getting back at society for

suppressing him. He felt that people owed him and when he

did not receive, he resorted to destructive measures. He

felt that the tactics he employed were the only real way to

deal with the problem at hand. Another side of Abner tends

to go deeper than what appears on the surface. Although we

are not told in the story precisely why he burns barns, the

real reason may be deeper, or should we say internal. This

reason never foretold probably came out of his early

childhood. His parents? and other sharecroppers? homes may

have been destroyed by fire, therefore, leaving a

psychopathic desire to get even with society. Through this

deep-rooted psychopathic behavior, Abner incorporates barn

burning into every situation that he has difficulty


The reader is intended to see Abner as only a surface

character, but internally, he is rather complex. You never

know what little things other than the obvious will set him

off. He has many conflicts going on at the same time. His

physical conflicts, those with landowners, and family

members, are very open to the reader. His internal

conflicts are intimated through actions and deeds performed

by him. He is true to his character because the end result

is always the same, even at the end when it costs him his

life. Abner felt he was justified in burning barns, not only

to relieve the internal pressure, but also to get even for

all the things that had gone wrong in his life. He felt he

was giving back to society what society had dealt to him.

Prentice Hall Inc. Literature. Upper Saddle River: New

Jersey, 1998.