Power struggles, anger, and resentment stand at the heart of William Faulkner's story "Barn Burning ." Abner Snopes is a mean man who feels that the whole world is against him. He carries a deep resentment toward those who are better off, and when someone offends him, he...
Power struggles, anger, and resentment stand at the heart of William Faulkner's story "Barn Burning." Abner Snopes is a mean man who feels that the whole world is against him. He carries a deep resentment toward those who are better off, and when someone offends him, he doesn't hesitate to retaliate. He burns down that person's barn. This is the way Abner believes he gets power over those who have power over him.
Abner and his family, including ten-year-old Sarty, have moved many times due to Abner's rage. In fact, as the story starts, Abner has just been accused of burning yet another barn, and the judge tells him that he must leave the area.
Abner's family is downtrodden and abused. They do what Abner says out of fear and because they have no other choice. Abner hits Sarty when he talks to his son about the session in court. He tells Sarty that the men in that room wanted "a chance to get at me because they knew I had them beat." Abner had no one beat. In fact, he was clearly guilty, yet he wants to feel powerful, so he convinces himself that he is in the right.
As the story progresses, the family arrives at the home of Major de Spain, on whose land they will work. Abner asserts his "power" this time by tracking manure into the house and onto the rug in the entrance hall. The Major insists that Abner clean the rug, but Sarty's sisters ruin it in the process. The Major tells Abner that he will take twenty bushels of corn in payment for the rug.
Abner prepares to burn yet another barn, positive once again that he has been wronged. This time, Abner wants Sarty to help him, but the boy will not. Sarty manages to get free and runs off to warn the Major. The boy ends up walking away into the woods at the end of the story, inferring that his father is dead and that he can finally escape from Abner's anger and power trips.