Use the comment section for this post to engage in a discussion of William Faulkner’s short story “Barn Burning.”
To see your requirements and parameters for our discussion, see our Reading/Discussing Short Stories guidelines. Strive for a vigorous exchange, including debating differing interpretations, but always strive for mutual recognition of each other, working toward enhancing our collective understanding of the story.
Watch your period’s group presentation on the story and see the DQs below, if you are looking for inspiration.
- What’s the significance of the final line in the story?
- Considering he liked setting fires, why did Abner Snopes build such small fires on regular nights?
- What was Abner Snopes’ real involvement in the war? What does this mean about him? About his son’s view of him?
- What does Abner Snopes ruining the de Spains’ rug symbolize?
- Why does Faulkner continuously compare Abner Snopes to tin?
- Consider the father’s relationship with wealth. His approach to the war seemed to indicate greed and materialism, yet his treatment of de Spain’s carpet points to a resentment of wealth. Do you think the father desires wealth? Why or why not? What other priorities interact with his desire for wealth, or lack therefore?
- While the battle between “blood” and “law” is one that permeates the entire story, the narrator has a clear shift between taking a beating for his family’s honor in the beginning and betraying his father in the end. What might have caused this shift?
- Faulkner opens the story with a description of the first court’s smell of cheese, filling the rest of the paragraph and even page with vivid descriptions of food and other sensory images that may seem tangential to the story. What purpose do these sensory descriptions serve?
- When Colonel Sartoris and his father come across the de Spain’s house, the boy is awestruck and forgets about most everything else. What does this reveal about Colonel Sartoris’s views of the world? His relationship & similarities/differences with his father?
- Why was the son named Colonel Sartoris?
- Why did Abner Snopes lie about his role in the Civil War?
- Why did the father believe Colonel Sartoris Snopes would have told the judge? Why does he lie about his intentions even though he was not going to tell the judge what his father did?
- Why does Colonel Sartoris Snopes decide to run?
- In the end of “ Barn Burning” does Colonel Sartoris regret his decision to run?