14 March 2012
In William Faulkner’s short story “Barn Burning”, the narrator describes a coming of age story of Sartoris Snopes, also know as Sarty. “Barn Burning” is told from a 3rd person-limited point of view where we see the narrator not as a character in the story but as a nonparticipant who can see into Sarty’s head. While discussing the point of view, one sees that the story is mostly told from Sarty’s consciousness, other characters are brought into perspective but Faulkner mostly focus’s on Sarty. Occasionally the point of view shifts forward from time to time to hint that Sarty survives long after his escape. When the point of view shifts forward, the narrator says things that Sarty himself doesn't know or even what Sarty would think if only he were older and more mature. Faulkner uses 3rd person-limited to speed up the development of the theme: becoming one’s own person and to also help one understand the changes Sarty’s character makes and the morals he values.
One experiences this story in 3rd person-limited due to the fact that most of the time we are being told about the story through Sarty’s consciousness. We mostly acknowledge the thoughts we hear in Sarty’s head rather than focusing on other characters and aspects of the story. In the beginning “Barn Burning” occurs in a convenient store where a court case is proceeding. This court case involves Sarty’s father Abner, an arsonist who is accused of burning down a barn. Sarty only hopes he will not have to testify in the barn burning case against his father -- a charge of which Sarty knows Mr. Snope’s is absolutely guilty. While awaiting the verdict of the case some of Sarty’s thoughts throughout this case are as followed, “ Our enemy he thought in that despair: ourn! Mine and hisn both! He’s my father! He aims for me to lie [...] and I will have to do hit[...]” (156). Sarty, being only ten years old, it seems easier for him to think of...