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Question 1 “Barn Burning”

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Question 1 “Barn Burning”

The portrayal of Abner Snopes’s character in Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” complicates the classist ideology of the text in that it brings conflict between the aspect of loyalty to the law versus loyalty to family. In this regard, in the story, Abner Snopes being one of the significant characters, is portrayed to have the following contradicting characters; a sadistic arsonist character and a sympathetic impoverished sharecropper character. According to Sarty’s first-person and third-person narrations, depicting Abner Snopes as a sadistic arsonist signifies loyalty to the law while describing him as a sympathetic impoverished sharecropper signifies loyalty to the family. Most notably, loyalty to the law and loyalty to family are the two major themes advanced in this story. Therefore, the aspect of Abner being given two contradicting characters absolutely contradicts the above two major themes in the story. From this quote where Sarty says, “He was in a war! He was in Colonel Sartoris’ cav’ry [cavalry]!” (, Faulkner, pg 108), reveals how Sarty believed that his father was brave enough to be loyal to his family despite being in the war. However, what Sarty fails to realize is that his father Abner was a mercenary, and the things he did as a mercenary favored the law more than his family.

Additionally, from the story, Abner seems to be fighting a classy war. In this regard, this is revealed in de Spain mansion, where he knowingly and willingly tracks horse poop on the rug (Faulkner, pg 46). As a sharecropper, he uses another man’s land to grow crops but still does not have his own tools; he rents the tools from the owner of the land. Analyzing these two scenarios, Abner is engaged in a classy war with the rich by tracking the horse poop to reveal that the rich get rich from the sweat of the poor. Notably, only a sadistic arsonist does like Abner. Although this portrays loyalty to the law by acting like a sadistic arsonist, it has an overwhelming effect on his family, an aspect that contradicts his loyalty to the family. Therefore, this significantly contradicts the classist ideology in the text.








Work cited

Faulkner, William, et al. Barn burning. Learning in Focus, 1979. Retrieved from:

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