Can you find some passages in "Barn Burning" which illustrate Faulkner's stream-of-consciousness style?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Look no further than the first paragraph of Faulkner's "Barn Burning" to find his free-style stream-of-consciousness narration:

The store in which the justice of the Peace's court was sitting smelled of cheese. The boy, crouched on his nail keg at the back of the crowded room, knew he smelled cheese, and more: from where he sat he could see the ranked shelves close-packed with the solid, squat, dynamic shapes of tin cans whose labels his stomach read, not from the lettering which meant nothing to his mind but from the scarlet devils and the silver curve of fish - this, the cheese which he knew he smelled and the hermetic meat which his intestines believed he smelled coming in intermittent gusts momentary and brief between the other constant one, the smell and sense just a little of fear because mostly of despair and grief, the old fierce pull of blood. He could not see the table where the Justice sat and before which his father and his father's enemy (our enemy he thought in that despair; ourn! mine and hisn both! He's my father!) stood, but he could hear them, the two of them that is, because his father had said no word yet:

"But what proof have you, Mr. Harris?"

Okay, okay, so the first sentence is not much of a stream.  It's only 15 words.  But those last two sentences are long, coiling snakes.  The second sentence is 118 words!  It moves from boy to cheese to cans to meat to fish to fear to grief to blood.  It is spatial, external, and internal description.

The third sentence is 61 words, including its jump off into dialogue.  With its parentheses, triple exclamations, internal ("ourn") and external dialogue ("But what proof...?"), the third sentence is a little bit of everything.  It's part third person, part Sarty in its point of view.

Through Faulkner's use of synesthetic imagery, the reader can smell, taste, and touch the tension in the setting, as we, like Sarty, begin to feel surrounded and confused.