The immediate action of "Barn Burning" occurs during an eight-day period in the early 1890s, although the narrator recounts statements made by Sartoris Snopes, the Barn Burning; Red Leaves; That Evening Sun 37 story's most important character, from as much as twenty years later. During the action of the story, Sarty is ten years old, but since Faulkner uses him as a point-of-view character for his third-person narrator, the reader sees Sarty making judgments as both a child and as an adult. This dual perspective is important to the story, because Sarty's perspective on justice changes. As a child, Sarty sees his father Ab as a barn burner, a destroyer of the property of others; as an adult, Sarty begins to see that justice is complicated by the great differences in property caused by the sharecropping economy in which his father has worked.
While Ab Snopes' actions classify him as a criminal, Faulkner also presents him as a social leveler. Sarty associates the de Spain mansion, which is big as a courthouse, with "peace and joy," but Ab sees the mansion in another way: "Pretty and white, ain't it? ... That's sweat. Nigger sweat. Maybe it ain't white enough yet to suit him. Maybe, he wants to mix some white sweat with it." As the narrator describes them, Ab's fires are a weapon used "for the preservation of integrity." They do not lead to any material advantage to him or his family, and in fact only further poverty. While sharecroppers, unlike slaves, are...
(The entire section is 1528 words.)
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