How does fire represent Abner's mode of control in Barn Burning by William Faulkner? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The defining characteristic of Abner Snopes is socioeconomic disempowerment. He is a travelling casual laborer who nutures a chronic sense of hatred and desire for vengance towards his employers. His sense of resentment leads to his being a bad worker, and commiting a series of acts which express his efforts to assert his contempt and hatred for his employers (such as muddyiong the rug with his boots) that get him fired. He reacts to this situation by asserting control and revenge by setting fire to their barns, compensating for his lack of power over his employment situation and lack of social power by using the power of fire as a force of destruction and control against the rich and powerful. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team