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Symbolism in Barn Burning

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Symbolism in Barn Burning

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  • April 2006
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A prime example of one of his most
symbolic works is "Barn Burning." Barn Burning
expresses symbolism through the white house, the
name of the land owner, the rug, the description
of the father, and what occurs after the father is
caught. The white house is symbolic because it
represents power in the South. This is shown when
the father says, "That's sweat. sweat. Maybe
it ain't white enough yet to suit him. Maybe he wants
to mix some white sweat with it" (12). The name of
the land owner can also be perceived as symbolic.
The land owners name is Major de Spain which symbolizes
power over others. The rug that is ruined also
illustrates how Abner Snopes does not respect authority.
He intentionally dirties the land owners brand new
and expensive rug. Not only does Abner dirty the rug
but he also scs it up with a rock and ruins it
completely. This is also an example of how he does not
want anyone to be better than he is. The father is
described as "something cut ruthlessly from tin" and as
"not dwarfed by the [white] house (10). This suggest
that Abner is a man that should be feared and that he
is a man that considers himself to be equal to the
strongest. One of the strongest examples of symbolism
in "Barn Burning" is after Abner is shot by the land
owner. His son, the character responsible for Abner
being shot, is running away; "he knew it was almost
dawn, the night was almost over. . . . He was a little
stiff . . . soon there would be the sun. He went on
down the hill, toward the dark woods within which the
liquid silver voices of the birds called unceasing--the
repaid and urgent beating of the urgent and quiring
heart of the late spring night. He did not look back
(15)."The dawn and the new day signify a new beginning
and a new life for Colonel. The night ending
symbolizes the dark times or bad times ping away.
The fact that he is "a little stiff" shows the changing
of periods in life. It represents...

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