The choice of metaphor that the writer uses is confusing me!Hey everyone, i'm working on the "Barn Burning" today and there's a difficult metaphor in the text that confuses me: "that impervious...

The choice of metaphor that the writer uses is confusing me!

Hey everyone, i'm working on the "Barn Burning" today and there's a difficult metaphor in the text that confuses me: "that impervious quality of something cut ruthlessly from tin". I know that it refers to something evil (because of the word "ruthlessly") that the son Sarty wants to describe his dad's intention but i cant really analyze the writer's choice of this metaphor... Why it has to be "impervious" and "cut from tin"? Does it help to increase the violent characteristic of the father Abner Snopes? Can someone help me out, please! Thanks a bunch!

Expert Answers
jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What's with his father and all that tin? Twice in the story he talks about tin and the dark, malevolent man that is his father:

1)...he could see his father against the stars but without face or depth-a shape black, flat, and bloodless as though cut from tin in the iron folds of the frockcoat which had not been made for him, the voice harsh like tin and without heat like tin:

2)...this, the peace and joy, ebbing for an instant as he looked again at the stiff black back, the stiff and implacable limp of the figure which was not dwarfed by the house, for the reason that it had never looked big anywhere and which now, against the serene columned backdrop, had more than ever that impervious quality of something cut ruthlessly from tin, depthless, as though, sidewise to the sun, it would cast no shadow.

First off, you have to give Faulkner a bit of poetic leaway. Lots of times he writes writes his own brand of prose/poetry, and he doesn't care to be take too literally. And maybe, from the son's point of view (and we know Faulkner is all about different points of view) there is a tin-like quality to his father. Tin: cheap, soft and hard at the same time, dull/shiny, and dangerously sharp when cut. Very. And moreover:

... depthless, as though, sidewise to the sun, it would cast no shadow.

There but not there. A malicious, inscrutible presence.

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Barn Burning

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