The Great Depression In William Faulkner's Barn Burning

Decent Essays

Born in 1897, William Faulkner was born into a classic southern family in Mississippi. Throughout his career, Faulkner chronicled the effects of the Great Depression in the postbellum South with his short stories and novels. Following an era of excess and luxury, the Great Depression revolutionized the life of Americans living in the southern states. The economic turmoil brought on by the recession increased existing racial tensions and heightened the disparity between the upper and middle classes. Although it takes place approximately forty-five years prior, allusions to the Great Depression can be seen throughout William Faulkner’s short story “Barn Burning” in the racial and social clashes between Abner and the surrounding community, along with the lifestyle of the Snopes family. Influences from the Great Depression are evident in the racist attitude and views of Abner Snopes. Poor, white families during the 1930s struggled with their place in the overall social structure, a trait mirrored in “Barn Burning.” During his first trial, Abner attempts to refute the testimony of a black man, discrediting him because of his race. Later, it is revealed that Abner used this same person to initiate the first barn burning (Faulkner 480). Abner’s willingness to betray and slander the black man only highlights his contempt for the African-American populace. Abner mimics the attitudes of white farmers in rural America during the height of the Great Depression. Without the

Get Access