Based on the story of the same title by William Faulkner, about the son of a tenant farmer who must choose between his aversion to playing his father's accomplice in violent acts against their landowners and his desire to win his father's acceptance.This Faulkner tale literally came to life for me when it aired on PBS sometime in the 1970's, even though I had read it before. As were several other short stories in that series, the most memorable "The Displaced Person" by Flannery O'Conner.The Snopes family camps out that night on the way to a new tenancy, in a county next door. What is your reaction to the way the two judges act in the respective trials?
Add some details of your own to fill out these bare bones with important omitted facts.
Opening scene: a village general store somewhere in the American South (Mississippi? A court is in session, presided over by a Justice of the Peace. Harris, a local landowner, has charged Abner Snopes, a share-cropping tenant, with arson - burning down his barn in retaliation for Harris' reactions to repeated incursions by Snopes' hog in Harris' crops.
(Consider the conclusion of 28.) Keep track in the margins of your text of the places where This story is written almost exclusively from Sarty's point of view, even though (as you will have noticed in your second reading) the narrator indicates Sarty's experience from a conceptual vantage point that transcends Sarty's own conceptual repertoire, and even though the narrator occasionally acquaints us with facts that we are told Sarty has never heard of.
We are clearly meant to sympathize with what Sarty is undergoing and with the decision he makes at the end, and this decision is not only counter to his father's will, but seems to result in the latter's death.
William Faulkner—store-clerk, carpenter, general construction-worker, coal shoveler, deck-hand, cadet-aviator, and ultimately a prime incarnation of the Great American Novelist—was a product of the Deep South.
Born in New Albany, Mississippi, the son of a railroad worker, he joined Britain’s Royal Air Force in 1918, attended the University of Mississippi, Oxford, and then seemed to lurch through life, changing jobs and travelling.
Faulkner stood accused of excessive mannerism and obscurity, and of a morbid interest in unhealthy types.
Northerners found his depiction of the unassimilated South too regional and Southerners found it too harsh and scandalous to be acceptable.
William Faulkner 1939Author Biography Plot Summary Characters Themes Style Historical Context Critical Overview Criticism Sources Further Reading William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” (1939) comes from the mid-point of its author’s career and finds its creator in consummate control of the modernist devices that he, more than any other, had brought to American prose: stream-of-consciousness narration, decadent and even culturally degenerate settings, extended sentences—interrupted by qualifying clauses—that give the effect of continuously suspended or deferred resolution of the action, and images of extreme violence.
These modernist gestures disturbed Faulkner’s early readers, and critics reacted harshly to his works of the late 1920s and early 1930s, such as the novels The Sound and the Fury (1929) and Light in August (1932).