Barn Burning Questions and Answers
by William Faulkner

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What is the central thematic conflict in Faulkner's "Barn Burning," and why does this conflict represent a true Modernist dilemma for Sarty?

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The "central thematic conflict" of "Barn Burning," by William Faulkner is between Abner Snopes and his family, especially "Sarty."

The modernist movement reflected the work of...

...artists of the 1920s who had become disillusioned with America...

Modernist [writers] looked at writing differently than the authors and literary movements that had preceded them:

Instead of plot events, there is an emphasis on characters' consciousness, unconsciousness, memory, and perception...

With this said, we find that Abner "Ab" Snopes is a pyromaniac, and a poor father and husband. He resents authority—his response is to "get mad and get even." At the start of the story, Snopes has been charged with setting fire to a Harris' barn. He is guilty, but expects his son, Sarty, to speak up for him and get him off the hook. We find that Sarty is particularly unhappy with his father's tactics, and this creates a conflict not only in how Sarty perceives his father, but in how Sarty is forced to feel about himself.

When...

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