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A Father's Legacy in William Faulkner's Barn Burning Essay

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A Father's Legacy in William Faulkner's Short Story "Barn Burning"

The cruel dominance of a father, can extinguish any flame of hope that builds in the people around him. In William Faulkner's short story "Barn Burning," Abner is that father. The story portrays a nomadic life of a family driven from one home to another. Abner had a craving hunger to belittle those around him that thought they were "better than him." Although the family accepts the nomadic life, Sarty (the son) dreams of having peace and stability. To have this peace, it only requires a lack of conflict. The Snope family was doomed to struggle due to Abner's constant instigation of conflict, the ongoing domination of his family and his complete lack of respect for the law.

Abners instigation of conflict, gives him justification to destroy the center of livlihood (the barn) of those he envies. The "ravening and jealous rage" he feels when seeing DeSpains home for the first time, leads to his desire to destroy it in some way. After deliberateley stepping in horse droppings, he forces himself in the home past the Negro. "The boy saw the prints of the stiff foot on the doorjamb and saw them appear on the pale rug behind the machinelike deliberation of the foot." Upon being asked to leave, "the boy watched him pivot on the good leg and saw the stiff foot drag round the arc [...] leaving a final long and fading smear." Although Abner had not appeared to be aware of the destruction he was doing...


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