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  • Barn Burning William Faulkner 1897-1962
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  • William Faulkner 1897-1962
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  • William Faulkner s life Born near Oxford, Mississippi in 1897 Great-grand father: a local legend - colonel in the Civil War, lawyer, railroad builder, financier, politician, writer, public figure shot and killed by a business and political rival in 1889. Father loved to hunt, drink and swap stories with his hunting friends; mother, ambitious, sensitive and literary, loved him the most of her four sons, died in 1907. Dropped out of high school in 1915. Enlisted in the British Royal Flying Corps in 1918 Published a collection of poems in 1924, first novel Soldiers Pay in 1926, the first significant novel Sartoris in 1929. Married his high school love Estelle Oldham in 1929, now divorced and returned to Oxford with two children. Awarded Nobel Prize in 1950
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  • William Faulkner s major works Novels The Sound and the Fury (1929) As I Lay Dying (1930) Light in August (1930) Absalom, Absalom (1936) Short fiction (short stories) A Rose for Emily (1930) Dry September (1931) That Evening Sun (1931) Barn Burning (1938)
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  • Which William Faulkner? Regionalist: the postage stamp of my little native soil ( ). Traditionalist: conventional themes - themes of morality, of the relationships between individuals & community, ancient myths & modern decay, traditional value & historical change, of the conflict between South and North, and of the relationship between past and present, or most essentially as Faulkner said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, of the human heart in conflict with itself. Modernist: experimentalist in art; radical views of art, his new concept of narration and his readiness for stream-of-consciousness
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  • William Faulkner s South Yoknapatawpha county The Southern aristocrat - decline of the Compson, Sartoris, Benbow, McCaslin families The illiterate poor white - rise of the unscrupulous Snopes family The Negro The Indians * The sin of pride dooms the ambitious families while lowly blacks and poor whites endure.
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  • Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech by William Faulkner 1 the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself alone can make good writing and only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
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  • Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech by William Faulkner 2 love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice are the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed.
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  • Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech by William Faulkner 3 Man is immortal because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
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  • Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech by William Faulkner 4
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  • Background Union / Confederate states Sharecropping / sharecropper / cropper White trash
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  • sharecropping White landowners Sharecroppers: - Ex-slaves (blacks) - Poor whites Half-half share of the harvest 70-30 share High interest charges of the loaned tools, animals, and money tied croppers to the land 30-70 share
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  • white trash poor whites outcast from respectable society living on the fringes of the social order who are seen as dangerous because they may be criminal, unpredictable, and without respect for authority whether it be political, legal, or moral.
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  • Barn Burning Introduction The story won the O. Henry prize the year it was published (1938), and has been adapted for the screen in 1980. It is a prequel to The Hamlet, The Town, and The Mansion. These three novels make up the "Snopes" trilogy. Setting: - southern small towns about 30 years after the Civil War (1895) Characters: - Abner Snopes is a sharecropper - Colonel Sartoris Snopes (Sarty) is a ten-year-old boy - landowners: Mr. Harris, Major de Spain
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  • Discussion Questions 1.What is the nature of the story's conflict? How does each of the story's six scenes serve to reveal, clarify, and intensify the conflict? 2.What seems to motivate Abner's violent, antisocial behavior? Why does he try to make his son Sarty an accomplice to the burning of Major de Spain's barn? Why does Sarty fianally defy him and try to warn Major de Spain? 3.The character of Abner Snopes 4.The character of Sarty 5.What comments does the story offer about the social, moral, and economic values of the old and the new South?
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  • nature of the story's conflict Conflict within Sartys mind
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  • Scene I (pp.166-168) Setting - an afternoon in the store Characters - Sarty - Abner - Mr. Harris - Justice of the Peace - audience (townspeople, half-grown boys) - Sartys brother, sisters, mother, aunt Event - Mr. Harris sues Abner for burning his barn - fight between Sarty and another boy
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  • Scene I (pp.166-168) Questions 1.From whose point of view is the scene described? 2.What do the following phrases reveal about Sartys feelings? - the smell and sense just a little of fear because mostly of despair and grief, the old fierce pull of blood (para. 1, p. 166) - the smell of cheese and sealed meat, the fear and despair and the old grief of blood (middle para., p. 167) - grim faces (p. 167) - feeling no floor, weightless, no blow, (p. 167)
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  • Scene II (pp.170-171) Setting - early next afternoon at Major de Spains house Characters - Abner - Sarty - the old Negro watchman - Miss Lula (wife of Major de Spain) Event - Abner stains the rug with fresh horse droppings
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  • Scene II (pp.170-171) Questions 1.What is Sartys impression of Major de Spains house? 2.How is his mood changed? - a surge of peace and joy (p.170) - the spell of the house
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  • Scene III (pp.171-173) Setting - late that afternoon in the rent house of the Snopes Characters - Sarty, mother, aunt - Major de Spain and his Negro youth servant - brother - father, two sisters Event - rug washing
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  • Scene III (pp.171-173) Questions 1.How does Sarty react to the appearance of Major de Spain? 2.How does Sarty react in the whole process of rug washing?
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  • Scene IV (p.173) Setting - early next morning (Wednesday) in Major de Spains lot Characters - father, brother, Sarty - Major de Spain Event - Major de Spain tells Abner that he will charge Abner a compensation of 20 bushels for the ruined rug.
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  • Scene IV (p.173) Questions 1. How does Sarty react to Major de Spains claim for a compensation? 2. What is his intention in offering to help his father hide the harvested corn? (p.173) 3. What has Sarty been doing after that? - working hard - dreaming (p.174)
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  • Scene V (pp.174-75) Setting - Saturday morning in a store Characters - Sarty, Abner, brother - Justice of the Peace - Major de Spain - audience Event - Abner sues Major de Spain for charging him too high a price for the damaged rug.
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  • Scene V (pp.174-75) Question What is Sartys reaction? - similar to the last scene, trying to appease his father (p.175)
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  • Scene VI (pp.176-78) Setting - Saturday night from the Snopes house to Major de Spains house to a hill top Characters - Sarty - father, brother, mother, aunt - Major de Spain and his men Event - Sarty tries to stop his father from burning Major de Spains barn by reporting to Major de Spain of his fathers intention.
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  • Scene VI (pp.176-78) Questions 1.When is the most intense moment of conflict within Sartys mind? - in the whole process of his running to Major de Spain and to his father 2. The word run is repeated many times in the description of Sarty in this scene. What does it indicate about Sarty?
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  • Conflict within Sarty Despair and Grief due to the conflict between - Loyalty to blood, family and father the old fierce pull of blood (p.166, 167, 170, 174, 176, 178) - Sense of honor, justice and responsibility for the community; dream of good and comfortable life the smell of cheese and hermetic meat (p.166-7) a lane of grim faces, the palpable weight of grim turning faces two lines of grim-faced men (p.167) peace and dignity of Major de Spains house (p.170)
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  • What motivates Abners violent, antisocial behavior? Abners imbalanced state of mind, ravening and jealous rage at the great gap between his poverty and the landowners richness Why barn burning instead of other ways?
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  • Abner vs. landowner Pretty and white, aint it? Thats sweat. Nigger sweat. Maybe it aint white enough yet to suit him. Maybe he wants to mix some white sweat with it ( 171) - a comment on Major de Spains house - indicating Abners despise of and hostility tow