Analysis of Faulkner’s “Barn Burning”

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The central idea of Faulkner’s “Barn Burning”, which is vividly formulated, is a dilemma between loyalty to a blood relative and commitment to justice. Sarti, a little boy, realizes that his father’s actions and behavior are inappropriate, but Sarti’s love for him heavily influences the assessment. However, in this paragraph, greater attention will be devoted to the racial theme in this story. Abner Snopes, Sarty’s father, is racist: it is best seen in the scene when he refuses to wipe his feet after a Black man’s request and says, “get out of my way, nigger” (Faulkner 6). The first dimension of race in this story is the fact that Abner’s economic well-being is similar to many other Blacks. For his whole life, Abner lived in a “poor country, a land of small farms and fields and houses” (Faulkner 5). The only way to feel some superiority and success was to humiliate Blacks because of their race. The second dimension is the problem of enslaved Black people and their relations with landlords. The vivid scene was when a black servant feared punishment from Miss Luisa, his master after Abner spoiled a rug (Faulkner 6). This example shows the evils of slavery and exposes the injustices that black people face. Lastly, it is instructive to understand how class hierarchies and race hierarchies are connected in Faulkner’s story. The text shows the great discrepancy between them: while racial inequality is big, class hierarchy does not always replicate racial one. As a result, the situation arises when poor white people, who envy rich landlords, enjoy the benefits of racial inequality to feel superiority. Thus, racial and class dimensions increase the likelihood of discrimination and racist attitudes being in the conflict. Nevertheless, if such a conflict had been absent, this discrepancy would still be present in the American context of the late 19th century.

Work Cited

Faulkner, William. “Barn Burning.” Weber State University.