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A Critical Approach to Barn Burning

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A Critical Approach To Barn Burning

"Barn Burning" is a story that is sad because it clearly shows and states the classical struggle between the “privileged” and the “underprivileged” classes.

Time after time emotions of sadness and despair surface from both sides of the story.

The story outlines two distinct protagonists, along with two distinct

antagonists. The first being his father, Abner Snopes (“Ab”) and the second, Colonel Sartoris Snopes (“Sarty”). Sarty is the protagonist that is surrounded by his father’s antagonism, where Ab is the protagonist antagonized by the struggle and social structure that is put on himself and his family.

The social and economic status of the main characters is poor. At the mercy of a quasi- feudal system in the 1800’s in North America and no hope of improving their conditions, Abner, being a sharecropper took himself and his family and had to

share half of the harvest with the landowner and share pay for the necessities of life. At this point, Ab and his family know that this will come to hard work for the landlord and mere survival.

A sense of no hope for advancement continues throughout the story. Sarty, his brother and the twin sisters have no way to education, as they must spend

most of their days working in the field and attending to family needs.

Food and nutritional needs are lacking “He could smell the coffee from the room

where they would presently eat the cold food remaining from the mid-afternoon meal” (PARA. 55).As a consequence, poor health combined with inadequate opportunity results in low morale. A morale which the writer is identifying with the middle class of his times “that same quality which in later years would cause his descendants to over-run the engine before putting a motor car into motion” (PARA. 20)

Abner and his family manage and continue to survive and find work. Still, the work offers little to no chance for survival. “I reckon I'll have a word with

the man that aims to begin tomorrow owning me body and soul for the next eight

months” (PARA 40). Just like the nomads, they were constantly forced to stay on the move, to find that way of survival.

One thing that you will notice during the story is Ab’s emotional unstability, which is also a contributing factor to the family. The family has moved a dozen times from

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