Barn Burning - A Symbolism Analysis

Topics: William Faulkner, Barn Burning, Good and evil Pages: 3 (1047 words) Published: May 4, 2006
A Symbolism Analysis of "Barn Burning"
In William Faulkner's 1939 short story "Barn Burning," a young boy, Colonel Sartoris Snopes (Sarty), is faced with and forced to endure the abusive and destructive tendencies of his father, Abner Snopes. As the story unfolds, several examples can be found to illustrate Faulkner's use of symbolism to allow the reader to sense the disgust for Abner Snopes, the significance in the lack of color usage throughout the story, and finally, Sarty's journey.

In the story, Abner Snopes represents a complete sense of dread, gloom, destruction, and most importantly, evil. It does not take long for the reader to determine that he is not a force to be reckoned with. His complete disregard for the feelings of others, especially his own family, is only the "tip of the iceberg." Even his surname, Snopes, can somehow depict the lackluster of this character. He relishes in the demise of those that he feels is a threat to him or to those that have angered him in some unsuspecting way. Such is the case with the ruination of Major de Spain's rug. In every occasion, Abner comes into contact with someone and a struggle ensues. He has an authority issue and considers everyone a threat to his own existence. This conflict is easily identifiable as the struggle between good and evil, a major theme in this story. The association between Abner and evil can also be demonstrated in the significance of Abner's foot. Many times, a malady or a strange, misshaped foot is often symbolization of the devil. Although Abner acquired this deformity as a result of the war, the correlation between Abner and the devil is quite apparent. Both have no regard for life, human or otherwise. They feel no remorse for their actions and actually justify their doings in their own minds. In addition, Abner's use of and familiarity with fire could be easily associated with that of the devil. Both feel that everyone is potentially a threat to their own existence...
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