ing Barn Burning EssaysThe Endless Circle in William Faulkner’s Barn Burning William Faulkner’s short story Barn Burning is the tale of a southernman forced into a role by society. Barn Burning takes place in the post CivilWar South where a mans place in society is derived by their actions during thewar.
Ab Snopse, a man who served both the North and the South, is plagued withhis non-allegiance and failure to accept authority. When Ab comes into conflictwith his employer, he finds himself taking control from the authority figure,and reverting back to his mercenary ways. Having no allegiance, Ab makes themove from helping hand to the enemy by burning down barns. Along with many of Faulkner’s short stories, Barn Burning is set inthe imaginary Mississippi county of Yoknapatawpha. During the restoration ofthe South, the time period following the Civil War, the only thing that kept theSouth alive and running where the memories of fallen heroes and the belief thatthe South would someday regain the status that it had once held.Order now
Families likethe Sartorises and the de Spains were glorified and praised for honors thattheir family members had achieved during battle. The honor that families likethese were granted placed them in public offices, and gave them opportunities toprosper where others could only dream about. This same honor seemed to carry onto those who shared the names of the great war heroes. Hey’, the Justice said. Talk louder.
Colonel Sartoris? I reckon anybody named for Colonel Sartoris inthis county can’t help but tell the truth, can they?’ (Kennedy 163). On the other hand, the Snopses are viewed as dishonorable. During thewar, Ab Snopse was considered a mercenary for serving both sides of the way. .
. . nights passed during those four years in the woods hiding from all men, blueand gray, with his strings of horses (captured horses, he called them) (165). Ab stole horses from the North and the South, to earn a living.
He was evenshot by a confederate soldier, His father turned, and he followed the stiffblack coat, the wiry figure walking a little stiffly from where a Confederateprovost’s man’s musket ball had taken him in the heel on a stolen horse thirtyyears ago. . . (164). Actions like these caused the community to look down uponthe Snopses, which in turn caused Ab to invoke revenge upon his adversaries.
When Ab comes into conflict with an employer, he reverts to his oldCivil War ways of non allegiance to benefit himself. Mayor de Spain accuses Abof intentionally destroying his rug. After Ab’s attempts to fix the rug fail,de Spain charges him twenty bushels of corn for the damages. Ab, feeling thattwenty bushels are too steep a price for the damages, takes de Spain to courtand sues him.
The Justice of the Peace lowers the fine for the damages, but Abis still not satisfied. Feeling unjustly punished, Ab does the only thing thathe knows, he burns down de Spains barn, and is shot and killed in the process. Ab has never held an allegiance to any man or thing. His life is one ofself-preservation.
During the war he worked for both sides without allegiance,bound only by who was paying. In life after the war he has not changed one bit. He travels from farm to farm, sharecropping to provide for his family. When hefeels pressure from an authority he takes the power away from them by burningwhat they own. His allegiance to an employer lasts only as long as he retains the power. Once that is gone, he simply takes it back by force, and moves on.