Barn Burning Topics for Further Study
by William Faulkner

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Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

Read another Faulkner story, "Turnabout," in which an American aviator in World War I meets a British torpedo-boat pilot and experiences the war from the sailor's perspective. Compare the ‘‘conversion experience’’ of the aviator at the end of the story, when he wishes that the German target he is bombing were in fact the Allied Headquarters, with Sarty Snopes's ‘‘conversion experience’’ in ‘‘Barn Burning.’’

''Barn Burning'' relies on Sarty's point of view, and to a lesser extent on Abner's and the narrator's, to convey its events; but Sarty's older brother, his mother, an aunt, and two sisters are also present. Read the story carefully and try to construct an account of events as one of these others might see them.

Explore the symbolic expressions of fire in ''Barn Burning.’’ What are the properties of fire in general that make it an apt symbol for certain human traits? What particular manifestations of fire does Faulkner deploy in his story to give his readers insight into the character of Ab Snopes?