19 February 2013
William Faulkner: Barn Burning: Violent Relationship Dynamics
William Faulkner’s Barn Burning is reflective of the dynamics domestic violence plays in family relationships and this is shown in the traits exhibited in the characters in the story. This is evident in the relationship between the children with their parents, the wife with her husband and Abner with his employers. Abner’s controlling nature creates constant conflict throughout the story.
Abner, who is cold, violent and emotionless is known for his independence and anger. He is convinced of his right to unleash his destructive revenge on anyone who has wronged him. Almost as soon as the story opens Abner’s nature is deliberate. When Abner speaks for the first time in court his voice is cold and harsh. His response also conveys an attitude of verbal abuse when the Judge tells him to flee the country he responds “I aim to. I don’t figure to stay in a country among people who…” (127). The sentence ends abruptly because as the author states, what was said next is unprintable indicating something extremely derogatory has been said. Then Abner takes his rage out on his son by jerking him back and demanding he go get the wagon (128). Abner had obviously been stewing over what happened in court when the Judge called Sarty up to testify against his father. Abner accuses Sarty of almost betraying the family blood by telling on him for burning the barn. Because of this Sarty feels torn when making decisions between right and wrong and maintaining a loyalty to his family. Another way Abner’s abusive behavior is displayed is through neglect. It is not standard for a father to disregard that a quality of living is a necessity for his wife and children. He barely provides a place for his family to live and the children are always starving. The family is constantly being uprooted due to Abner’s emotional instability. Therefore the only provision of material...