Barn Burning Essay

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Zender is a professor of English at the University of California—Davis. In the following excerpt, he provides a thematic and stylistic analysis of "Barn Burning," relating the story to Faulkner's other works and to American literature in general.

Allowing us to inhabit Ab's point of view is an act of artistic courage on Faulkner's part. It is a striking example of how much of the human condition lies inside the pale of his imaginative sympathy. But allowing identification with Ab also places almost intolerable pressure on the conclusion of the story, by forcing a single signifier to serve incommensurate artistic purposes. Once we have attained to intimate knowledge of Ab's true motives, the father that Sarty "forgets" can never again be only an interior, imaginary, symbolic figure. He must also be Adam, flesh and blood, Ab as social and physical reality. An uneasy sense of the...

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This section contains 1,869 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Barn Burning Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
Barn Burning from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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