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Barn Burning

By ewick7 Mar 12, 2013 735 Words
Erica Wicktora
ENG102 T/Th 1:00-2:15
Mrs. Gurley
February 12, 2013
Essay #2
Barn burning

In this class project we had to read the book called Barn Burning. It shows how some people are mistreated and how loyalty is played. I liked reading this book, because it taught me how people can be treated and how it happens in life today. William Faulkner brilliantly illustrates the importance of integrity and loyalty in this short story.

The Author William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi in 1897. He joined the Royal Air Force during the First World War and studied for a while at the University of Mississippi. He temporarily worked for a New York bookstore and a New Orleans newspaper. William Faulkner became famous for a series of novels that explore the South’s historical legacy, violent present and uncertain future. Some of his major works include The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom!, all firmly rooted in the fictional Mississippi county of Yoknapatawpha. Faulkner was particularly interested in the moral implications of history.

The main character Colonel Sartoris Snopes is a ten-year-old boy which is the story’s protagonist. He is forced to confront an ethical quandary that pits his loyalty to his family against the higher concepts of justice and morality. Abner Snopes is Sartoris’s father and a serial arsonist. He is known for his Wolf like independence and anger. He is convinced of his right to unleash his destructive revenge on anyone whom he believes has wronged him. Lennie Snopes is Sartoris’s mother. Lennie attempts to stem her husband’s destructive impulses. She is beaten down by the family’s endless cycle of flight and resettlement and the pall of criminality that has stained her clan. Major de Spain is a well-dressed and affluent landowner. De Spain brings the soiled rug to the Snopeses’ cabin and insists that they clean it and return it. Mr. Harris is a landowner for whom the Snopeses were short-term tenants. Harris had attempted to resolve the conflict over the Snopeses’ hog and he is left with a burned barn and no legal recourse.

The justice of the peace asks Mr. Harris for proof that Mr. Snopes burned his barn. Mr. Harris describes the numerous times Snopes’s hog broke through the fence and got into his cornfields. The final time, when Mr. Harris demanded a dollar for the animal’s return, the black man who was sent to fetch the hog gave Mr. Harris an ominous warning that wood and hay are flammable. Later that night, fire claimed Mr. Harris’s barn. While the judge claims that that by itself isn’t proof, Mr. Harris has Sartoris called to testify before the court. The boy knows his father is expecting him to lie on his behalf. The judge asks Mr. Harris whether he wants the child cross-examined, but Mr. Harris has the boy removed. The judge dismisses the charges against Snopes but warns him to leave the county for good. Snopes takes Sartoris to the house of Major de Spain, the owner on whose land the family will work. Sartoris escapes and runs to the de Spain house, bursting in on the servant. Breathlessly, he blurts out the word Barn! Three shots ring out and Snope is killed, and his plan to burn de Spain’s barn failed.

This story was very confusing to me at first because I had to read it a couple times to really understand what happened. It didn’t really catch my attention when I first read it because it was about a barn being burned down, but the attitude and actions used in the story really caught my attention. The behavior and the loyalty in this story are used in life today. It makes me feel grateful about my life and that we don’t have servants like they did back in the day. I really did enjoy reading this story and it taught me to be grateful for the life that I have.

Works Cited

Booth, Allison, and Kelly J. Mays. The Norton Introduction to Literature. Tenth ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, n.d. Print.

"William Faulkner - Biography". 21 Feb 2013

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Barn Burning.” SparkNotes LLC. 2007. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.

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