Friday, August 28, 2009

"Barn Burning." William Faulkner.

One-minute review: Set in the South. Snopes is a hired hand. His employers inevitably say or do something to offend him. He gets his revenge against those he works for by burning their barns. In the opening scene, he is before the justice of the peace who is unable to prove Snopes burned his most recent barn, but tells him to get out of the area and don’t come back. Snopes moves to another plantation. He goes to the front door of the owner’s house, steps inside and soils an expensive French rug. The owner demands that he clean it. He only makes it worse, intentionally. His son, the narrator, wrestles with his loyalty to his father, sees that he is going to burn another barn, tells the owner and leaves, never looking back at his family.

Comment: Hemingway once said that in writing his stories, he tried to tell, among other things, “how the weather was.” Faulkner depicts vividly the atmosphere of the post-Civil War South, including the weather and the language. Faulkner’s sentences are often long-winded, but they add up to characters usually confronting each other in mental games of chess. Faulkner’s stories and novels are psychological. And, not infrequently, melodramatic. RayS.

Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Eds. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1989.

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