A RELATIONSHIP TEST
A Literary Comparison of “Barn Burning” and “Fiesta, 1980” Rena Lee Cobett
Galen College of Nursing
A RELATIONSHIP TEST
“William Faulkner, born in Albany, Mississippi, in 1987, became famous for a series of novels that explore the South’s historical legacy, its fraught and often tensely violent present, and the South’s uncertain future (SparkNotes Editors, 2007). Often, in the stories Faulkner wrote, the reader would find Faulkner’s characters being caught in competing and evolving modes, torn between a new and an older, more tenacious rooted world order.” (SparkNotes, 2007). Within the Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner (1961) is the short story “Barn Burning”. In the story “Barn Burning” the major theme, conflict between the loyalty of Sarty Snopes to his family and loyalty to honor and justice, offers comparison opportunities to Yunior’s in the short story “Fiesta, 1980” written by Junot Diaz. Diaz’s short story collection Drown (1996), centers on the teenage narrator who makes his way as an impoverished immigrant in New Jersey (Meyer, 2012, 149). Junot Diaz’s short story “Fiesta, 1980” centers on a teenage narrator conflict with his loyalty towards his father, his loyalty towards his mother and the cultural expectations of the Latino culture. Both, Faulkner and Diaz, utilize the conflict in relationship to authority encountered by the protagonists, Sarty and Yunior, in the stories “Barn Burning” and “Fiesta, 1980”. This reader believes the theme of both stories, “Barn Burning” and ‘Fiesta, 1980”, revolve around the conflict that outlines the relationships between both the protagonists and their fathers with the adaptation to the changes taking places during a particular time during their lives and that is the defining element that ultimately ties both short stories together. Conflict is often used in a short story as the lifeblood of the plot. It is “the struggle within the plot between opposing forces. The PROTAGONIST engages in the conflict with the ANTOGONIST, takes the form of a character, society, nature, or an aspect of the protagonist’s personality.” (Meyer, 2012, 1655). In both “Barn Burning” and “Fiesta, 1980” there is conflict between both the protagonist Sarty and Yunior with their fathers and actions their fathers are partaking in. “The father-son relationships in the society have got a relatively differential manner by which they are looked at, by everyone.” (Ashahri, 2011). During both stories this reader struggles with her own inner feelings of anger, compassion and sadness in response to the actions of the father’s morality and family issues struggling within the protagonists. In both stories the young sons, Sarty and Yunior, are confronted with dilemmas initiating them into manhood. “Barn Burning” and Fiesta are set in two entirely different times in history and settings as far as location. Understanding both enables this reader to better understand the commitment of both protagonists towards their fathers and struggles with their own inner feelings of unjust. In “Barn Burning”, the plot revolves around the plight of morality and family issues. “Young Sarty has a choice: He can be loyal to his father, his blood relative, or he can do what he innately senses are right.” (Roberts, 2014 ). The relationship between Sarty and his father Abner Snopes is tested in many aspects of the story, from Sarty’s disbelief, disgust, and then his loyalty towards his father surrounding his criminal activity. This story starts out in a judicial hearing where Abner Snopes is on trial for burning a barn down. The anger Abner Snopes develops secondary to being told he could have his stray pig back at the cost of a dollar for pound fee by a neighbor provokes him to strike back. In doing so, his plan to burn the neighbor’s barn down in retaliation is carried through after a message is sent to the neighbor stating “wood and hay kin burn”. Sarty knows his father...
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