The Power of Land: Barn Burn by William Faulkner

1551 Words7 Pages
The importance of land ownership has been a vital part of modern society due to the many goods and resources one can acquire from it. Because of this, landowners have a distinct advantage over non-land owners when it comes to these resources. Not only are landowners able to use the land themselves, but grant others the ability to use their land for a percentage of the produce. This is known as sharecropping. As seen is William Faulkner’s short story, Barn Burn, it is land ownership and not ethnic origins gives power to certain individuals. By controlling the livelihood of individuals who live off the earth, landowners place themselves in a more advanced social class than those without land. In Charles Chesnutt’s story The Goophered…show more content…
Feed by insecurities and anger, Abner makes slights to the upper class by befouling the landowner’s house, while also lashing out the Negro servant by calling him a “nigger” and completely disregarding his instructions (Faulkner 805).
Some of Abner’s anger may stem from his internal feeling of being like a slave. While leaving the house, Abner angrily tells his son, "[t]hat's sweat. Nigger sweat. Maybe it ain't white enough yet to suit him. Maybe he wants to mix some white sweat with it” (Faulkner 805). Abner is attempting to belittle the house that his son thought so highly of by declaring it built by “niggers”. In his bitter remark, Abner reveals his is expressing his disdain for both the black race and his own profession. Abner sees sharecropping as being similar to slavery. As shown earlier in the story, the initial reason for visiting Major de Spain’s house was to “have a word with the man that aims to begin to-morrow owning me body and soul for the next eight months” (Faulkner 803). Instead of seeing himself as an employee, Abner makes a clear distinction between himself and Major de Spain by including the notion that Major de Spain would own not only the land but also his body and soul. In The Goophered Grapevine, the idea of land ownership makes a central appearance early on in Chesnutt’s short story. Due to ongoing health problems, John and his sickly wife (Annie) are attempting to move to North Carolina in the hopes that a warmer climate will

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