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A Critical Approach To "Barn Burning" (By William Faulkner)

859 words - 4 pages

"Barn Burning" is a sad story because it very clearly shows the classical struggle between the "privileged" and the "underprivileged" classes. Time after time emotions of despair surface from both the protagonist and the antagonist involved in the story.This story outlines two distinct protagonists and two distinct antagonists. The first two are Colonel Sartoris Snopes ("Sarty") and his father Abner Snopes ("Ab"). Sarty is the protagonist surrounded by his father antagonism whereas Ab is the protagonist antagonized by the social structure and the struggle that is imposed on him and his family.The economic status of the main characters is poor, without hope of improving their condition, and ...view middle of the document...

Like nomads they were forced to move constantly. Due to seasons and crop rotation, in order to secure work they had to reserve land with different landowners.Ab's emotional instability is a predominant factor contributing to his erratic behavior throughout the story. The family has moved a dozen times from farm to farm, and at times forced to forfeit their agreement with the landlord due to Ab's unacceptable behavior. A behavior which throughout the story is transformed into a rebellion, by Ab smearing the landowner's carpet with horse manure and then suing him for charging him too much for the damage. These acts symbolize frustration with the system and a radical approach to rebel against it. Knowing that punishment could not be avoided when committing such acts, Ab's actions take on a more dramatic meaning as if he is trying to convey a message. He is aware of the economic injustice and he must respond even at the risk of him and his family being prosecuted or ostracized.Ab's constant rebellion is displayed by a rough, sour character and exemplified when he burns his landlord's barn down. He feels despair and loss, and inflicts damage to whomever he happens to be working for.Although the story centers on the feelings and thoughts of Ab's youngest son Sarty, the economic implications of his entire...

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