Barn Burning by William Faulkner
Destruction by burning can be seen in more than one way in "Barn Burning" by William Faulkner. The most obvious act of burning down barns is an outward expression of Abner's inner turmoil for the life he bitterly hates. The impact of Abner's violence can be seen in Abner's family, especially Sarty as he comes to see the destruction his father causes. This paper will examine the impact of Abner's anger and how it effects his family. Abner's anger causes his son to feel distant from him. We can see how Sarty comes to realize this only as a grown man when we are told, "Later, twenty years later, he was to tell himself, `If I had said they wanted only truth, justice, he would have hit me again'" (477). We can also pull from the text that Abner is able to tolerate his landlords' insults because he knows he can always get even by burning a barn. It seems as though Abner experiences great pleasure of being able to determine the time and place of a burning--generally after he has found another place for the family to live. The burning not only allows Abner to control his own anger; the burning allows him to control his landlord's reaction. Because he is burning down precious property, Abner almost guarante
Abner's anger also impacts Sarty because it skews Sarty's thinking. Sarty is constantly bombarded with feeling of inadequacy because his fatherdoes not believe that they can rise above their situation. In this way,we can see how his behavior is destructive even to himself. We are told, People whose lives are a part of this peace and dignity are behindhis touch, he no more to them than a buzzing wasp: capable ofstinging for a little moment but that's all; the spell of this peaceand dignity rendering even the barns and stable and cribs whichbelong to it impervious to the puny flames he might contrive. (476) In conclusion, the impact of Abner's violence leads to many types ofdestruction. Through this insight, we know that Sarty will eventually have to choosebetween his family and delicate issues of morality. He might be injured from his father'sanger, but he is also strong, for even after four days of starving outside,he knows he will not look back. In fact, we are told it is, "the one weapon for thepreservation of integrity, else breath were not worth the breathing, andhence to be regarded with respect and used with discretion" (476). Inthis way, the impact of Abner's anger controls the family. He wont git no tenbushels neither. If he wanted it done different why didn't he wait andtell you how' He won't git no twenty bushels! . Sarty anticipated his father's reactions because he was not able topredict what his father would do. He sees it, but he cannot predict it.
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