Barn Burning: Abner Snopes Character Analysis

Topics: Wealth, William Faulkner, Fiction Pages: 3 (1086 words) Published: October 8, 1999
William Faulkner's short story "Barn Burning" describes a typical relationship between wealthy people and poor people during the Civil War. The main character, Abner Snopes, sharecrops to make a living for his family. He despises wealthy people. Out of resentment for wealthy people, he goes and burns their barns to get revenge. Abner's character over the course of the story is unchanging in that he is cold hearted, lawless, and violent.First, Abner's unchanging character shows his cold heartedness. After being sentenced to leave the country for burning a man's barn, he shows no emotions to his family. During the story, there was not a time when he apologized or offered a word of encouragement to them. His tone of voice when talking to them is bitter and bossy, and he never said thank you. Later in the story after they had arrived at their next house, he orders his wife, her sister and his two daughters to unload the wagon. He walks with his son to DeSpain's house where he entered without given permission, and proceeded to wipe his feet that was covered with horse manure, thus staining the rug. "Abner moves through life with no regard for his fellow humans and with no respect for their right to material possessions" (731). After being told to clean the rug, Abner took a rock and further ruined it. His coldness is shown when he demands his two daughters to clean the rug in pots of lye and then hanging it to dry. Later in the evening Abner calls his son to get to return the rug to DeSpain. When Abner returned to DeSpain's house he threw the rug on the porch instead of knocking on the door and returning it to DeSpain properly. Abner was later charged for the damages he did to the rug. "This is enough to satisfy Abner yet again that the social system only works in behalf of the rich, and he sets out that night to redress this wrong by burning DeSpain's barn" (855).Abner's unchanging character is evident not only in his role as being cold-hearted but...

Cited: /b>
  • Kirszner & Mandell, ed. Literature. 3rd ed. Orlando: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1997.
  • Magill, Frank. Critical Survey of Short Fiction. California: Salem Press, 1993.
  • Salyman, Jack, and Pamela Wilkinson. Major Characters in American Fiction. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1994.
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