What is Mr. Snopes accused of in the opening scene of "Barn Burning"?  What is the evidence against him?"Barn Burning" by William Faulkner

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Snopes is accused of burning his neighbor's barn.  The neighbor bases his accusation on a threat Mr. Snopes has made, but he has no real evidence that Mr. Snopes actually committed the crime.

The neighbor says that Mr. Snopes' hog kept getting into his corn.  The first time it happened, the neighbor caught the hog and sent it back with a warning, and noticed that Snopes did not have a fence to keep the hog in.  The next time the hog got loose, the neighbor gave Snopes wire with which to patch his pen, but when the hog escaped a third time, the neighbor discovered the material was never used.  Angry, he kept the hog, and told Snopes he could have it back "when he paid...a dollar pound fee".  That evening, "a nigger came with the dollar and got the hog".  The black man also brought a message from Snopes - "He say...wood and hay kin burn".  The neighbor took the message as a threat, and sure enough, his barn burned down that night. 

Although the neighbor's suspicions appear to be justified, the judge wants hard evidence that Mr. Snopes was behind the barn burning.  Since the black man who delivered the message has disappeared and the neighbor cannot come up with any other proof to substantiate his suspicions, Mr. Snopes goes free.

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Barn Burning

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