Barn Burning By William Faulkner

1357 Words6 Pages
William Faulkner’s O. Henry Award winning short story, “Barn Burning” was written in 1938 and published by Harper’s in 1939 (“William,” par. 12). In many ways the story is a product of “both a turbulent time in America’s history and Faulkner’s personal history” (Parker 101). America was emerging from the Great Depression just in time to see World War II looming on the horizon while Faulkner was struggling with “finances, a drinking problem, and a new mistress” (Parker 102). In “Barn Burning” Faulkner makes extensive use of his own life experiences and symbolism, elements that characterize many of his other stories. However, in “Barn Burning” there is a hard edge to the story theme that may match the hardness of the times it was…show more content…
5). The exact setting for “Barn Burning” is not identified in the story, but may be a town called New Albany. Faulkner lived in a number of larger Mississippi cities, but New Albany was the small town that he was born in. The action of “Barn Burning” centers around “the sharecropper’s cabin, the planter’s mansion, and the town’s general store” (Padgett, par. 2). Faulkner would have been familiar with all of these from his small town upbringing. Symbolism is also another element of fiction that Faulkner employs. The planter’s mansion is a central symbol in this story. Major De Spain’s mansion is primarily a symbol of security here. When Sarty, Abner Snopes’ son, sees it for the first time he is overcome with a feeling of peace. Never before has he seen anything that is so big and powerful that it is beyond the ability of his father to destroy. “He saw the house for the first time and at that instant he forgot his father and the terror and despair both, and even when he remembered his father again (who had not stopped) the terror and despair did not return” (Faulkner 149). To Sarty “the grand house represents peace and safety” (Brucker, par. 5). He thinks, “They are safe from him. People whose lives are a part of this peace and dignity are beyond his touch” (Faulkner 149). Abner Snopes himself functions as a thinly disguised

More about Barn Burning By William Faulkner

Open Document