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Which adjectives best describe the tone of "Barn Burning"? What style are these...

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ninja28 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 25, 2009 at 1:15 PM via web

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Which adjectives best describe the tone of "Barn Burning"? What style are these passages written?

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epollock | Valedictorian

Posted May 25, 2009 at 2:06 PM (Answer #1)

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ninja28,

Faulkner's “Barn Burning,” is narrated from an objective third person point of view.The protagonist of “Barn Burning” is a poor ten-year-old boy with the name of Colonel Sartoris Snopes (called Sarty by his family). His father, Abner Snopes, is a primitive and vengeful man who divides the world into two opposing camps—blood kin (“us”) and enemies (“they”). He is the poor, ignorant, and vicious patriarch of an impoverished family. Symbolically Abner could be linked to the devil.

The main psychological story of “Barn Burning” is Sarty’s growing awareness of his father’s depravity and the boy’s internal struggle between blood loyalty to his father and a vague but noble ideal of honor suggested by the aristocratic Major de Spain. The boy loves his father but he also understands his immoral destructiveness. Sarty sees himself as an individual different from his father and kinfolk. By the end of the story he has achieved a difficult and tortured moral independence from his father.

From the opening paragraph, we can tell that the tone of the story will be excited and impassioned—at least in the moments when we see through Sarty’s eyes. Even his view of canned goods in the general store (where court is being held) is tinged with intense emotion. Fear, despair, and grief sweep over Sarty because his father is on trial as an accused barn burner.

The boy’s wonder and dismay are conveyed in a suitably passionate style. Whenever Sarty is most excited, Faulkner’s sentences grow longer and more com-plex and seem to run on like a torrent. The second sentence of the story is a good
illustration, as is the sentence in which Sarty jumps out of the way of Major de Spain’s galloping horse and hears the barn going up in flames at the climax of the story.

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