William Faulkner's "Barn Burning" & It's Socio-Economic Levels

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Johany Hernandez
Professor Gray
ENC 1102
October 12, 2011
Life’s Own Food Chain

William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” depicts socio-economic levels of the post Civil War rural South. Social class and economic worth is a major theme throughout the story. It displays a hierarchy of different financial level that is used to portray different socio-economic standpoints among groups. At the very bottom of the social structure are Sarty and his family. On the following level, there is the de Spain’s Negro servant. Afterwards, is Mr. Harris. At the top of the ladder are Major de Spain and his wife, Lula de Spain. All of these characters represent the differences among the socio-economic groups, and how they intertwine with each other in the community. At the bottom of the rank are Sarty and his family. They are farmers who work on others’ plantations because they cannot afford to have their own. They are definitely an uneducated group of individuals. This can be seen when Sarty is speaking: ‘He won’t git no ten bushels neither. He won’t git one.’ Another good example would be their clothing. Sarty’s sisters are “…in a flutter of cheap ribbons.” The family’s clothes consist of “an incredible expanse of pale clothes and a flutter of tawdry ribbons.” Moreover, Abner Snopes is depicted as someone who does not desire change, even for the betterment of his family. The father walks “stiffly from where a Confederate provost’s man’s musket ball had taken him in the heel on a stolen horse thirty years ago.” He also seems to wear the same black coat constantly. Above Sarty in the hierarchy structure is the de Spain’s servant. The Negro is being described as “…an old man with neat grizzled hair, in a linen jacket.” His living in the de Spain’s mansion shows that he is of higher status than the Snopes family. He lives very comfortably in the manor. The fact that he is wearing a linen jacket illustrates that he is exceptionally well taken care of. Though still a servant, he is...
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