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Barn Burning

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  732 ratings  ·  35 reviews
"Barn Burning" is a short story by the American author William Faulkner which first appeared in Harper's in 1939 and has since been widely anthologized. The story deals with class conflicts, the influence of fathers, and vengeance as viewed through the third-person perspective of a young, impressionable child. It is a prequel to The Hamlet, The Town, and The Mansion, the t ...more
Paperback, 47 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Perfection Learning (first published January 1st 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,039)
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Tadiana
I've been trying to mix up my reading diet lately, including some more literary and thought-provoking reading along with the fantasies and other brain candy. Most of my literary diet this past week has been on the cavity-inducing side of things, so today I went to search my bookshelves for The Sound and the Fury, which I thought I remembered buying when I was in college. No luck finding it, unfortunately--though I did find Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, s ...more
matt

Thing is, this is the story that gets so widely anthologized that it becomes people's first- and only-exposure to the world of Faulkner; the runonsentences; the stream-of-consciousness; the family drama (or what Freud called 'the family romance'); the pervading fatalism and doom and shame and endurance on the part of the characters, no All-American hero or come from behind, Horatio Alger here, no sir...

What happens, as I see it at least, is that unsuspecting kids who have to take a higher-leve
...more
Matt
Not my favorite - but fuck, Faulkner, I would have liked a drink with you.

[3.5 stars for Faulkner being, well, Faulkner.]
Lizzie
Well. I thought I didn't like this story very much at all. I figured two stars, but the more I thought it over, the stronger my feelings got. I didn't have very much fun while I read it, it's true. This story is the perspective of a little boy, named after a Colonel of the Civil War (during which his father seems to have un-heroically just stolen horses), as his family is uprooted when his father gets kicked out of town for the dozenth time, for arson. His father is a horrible man, and the story ...more
Kara Strebel
This is about a boy who is growing up, wanting to find himself. He has a racist father, who is the alpha male in every situation and is doing things that this boy is not ok with. He has always followed along because its his family, but throughout the story, he begins to develop his own moral code.

I liked this short story. It was a little dragged out for me, but was still a way better short story than some I have read this semester. It teaches some morals and makes people ask themselves what they
...more
Doug
Somewhere in me there's a jealous boy who loves the opportunity to bash literary classics. As I experiment more as a writer, it becomes a little harder to do and a little easier, each time, to appreciate the difficulty of what an author attempted. It is with great pleasure I bash "Barn Burning".

This is one of the longest short stories I've ever read. "Barn Burning" is like Norm MacDonald's moth joke with less punchline and no animation. The plot and dialogue lack engagement. The underlying messa
...more
Paige
William Faulkner has an interesting writing style, and it's no different in his short story "Barn Burning." This is another short story that we discuss in my college class. Usually, students are more hesitant about this story because it's a story that really requires focus while reading. (Sometimes students lack this focus.) Once we begin discussing the story, though, they become more interested. They declare Abner a psychopath and then progress to questioning in what point of view the story is ...more
Rick Wilcox
“His father turned, and he followed the stiff black coat, the wiry figure walking a little stiffly from where a Confederate provost’s man’s musket ball had taken him in the heel on a stolen horse thirty years ago, followed the two backs now, since his older brother had appeared from somewhere in the crowd, no taller than the father but thicker, chewing tobacco steadily, between the two lines of grim-faced men and out of the store and across the worn gallery and down the sagging steps and among t ...more
Brandon
Mar 23, 2011 Brandon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: estranged children, people wrestling with racism and poverty
Recommended to Brandon by: Jim Hinkle
This story questions Old Testament law on the point of "honor thy mother and father." I had to read this story in college, but I keep going back to it because my parents separated when I was Sarty's age, so my high rating for this story might have a lot to do with how the story resonates with me, but that aside, I'd say that Sarty's ability to leave his blood is one of the most frightening experiences someone could face.

Yes, he turns his back on his family, but he turns his back on his family t
...more
The Scrivener's Quill
This story reminds me of the Imp of the Perverse by Edgar Allan Poe. What makes people act self-destructively. Its interesting question to consider. I also wonder why the law or justice system seems to nearly perpetuate the problem in being "understanding" which doesn't cure the situation or mean the destructive streak won't happen again. There probably isn't a truly effective system to address individuals with the self-destructive itch.
Thesartyparty
Faulkner's short story really made me consider the saying 'blood is thicker than water'. This story is proof that you can't live your life by just one phrase, saying or idea.
Elena
Ugh, such a confusing and frustrating story!!!! Why must your character relationships be so confusing William Faulkner?!
Dalya Bordman
Barn Burning is a short and straightforward read. The reader gets a great sense of the time period (post civil war) and gets a sense of the culture of the times. The protagonist, Sarty Snopes has to deal with an internal conflict of agreeing with his family or listening to his ethical and moral inclinations. In the end, Sarty decides to do what is right, and disobeys his father and his family. As a writer, I learned that the main character's thoughts do not always need to be the explicitly writt ...more
Georgia
Good short story to teach the elements of Southern Gothic to sophomores, though be prepared for a lot of personal/serious student comments to come up in discussion
Kevin Wu
Hard to understand my first go around, wasn't able to fully appreciate.
Caroline Paxton
3.5

Hard to get through without SparkNotes, but once I understood the story I actually liked it.
Bludhaven
A father, tyrant in his own home, is accused of burning down the barn of his landlord and has to leave. At his new position he again gets into trouble with his landlord and again feels so wronged that he sets out to set fire to another barn.

This short story is told from the perspective of the culprits son. The reader only sees what's happening through the boy's eyes and feelings. The underlying tension in the post-Civil War South between the tennants and land owners isn't explicitly described, b
...more
Stephanie
Nov 14, 2014 Stephanie marked it as to-read
Mentioned in Hunter S Thompson's Hell's Angels.
Egija
Who did what and who burned the barn.
Elizabeth Rogers
I'm not the biggest Faulkner fan (I find his writing tedious and unnecessarily confusing), but I do really like this short story. Of his popular short stories, it's one of the easier to follow, and the writing style here isn't as complex as some of his other works. Sarty is faced with a very relatable dilemma between morals and family loyalty, a conflict every person can apply to his or her own life. That relatability is the reason I rate this short story so highly.
Francene Carroll
William Faulkner is an outstanding author and this short story confirms my already high opinion of him. I love the way he puts you right in the story and makes you feel for the characters. Barn Burning is heart wrenching and so beautifully written. I had to read it for a creative writing class and it's fascinating the way he plays around with point of view (or focalisation as I've now learnt to call it).
Kerri Stebbins
One of myriad reasons to love Faulkner: Give him thirty-four pages and he'll give you an unforgettable story simultaneously sobering and smirk-inducing.

[Four stars for a stellar first line ("The store in which the Justice of the Peace's court was sitting smelled of cheese."), apt alliteration ("incorrigible idle inertia"), and an ending both haunting and hopeful.]



Serena
Interesting hypnotic, trance-like, and sombre story. I didn't understand what was going on, to be honest. The protagonist's father reminds me ominously of Joe Christmas's foster father in Light in August.

I couldn't believe that the protagonist was the Colonel that is briefly mentioned (and is already dead) in "A Rose for Emily".
Tabatha
Read this entire story and still wasn't quite sure what it was all about. I get that it was about burning barns, but I wasn't quite sure as to the why, I guess it's kind of mysterious in that sense. It was written very eloquently, however the story and characters really didn't mean anything to me in the end.
Laura
The story has a lot to say and it says it rather poetically. I've just never been the biggest fan of Faulkner, and the story was a little difficult to drag through on the first reading. When I went back and looked a little harder, I liked it a lot better.
Nagisa
The boy is torn between his family loyalty and his conscience, and he chooses the latter.
Although the story illustrates family discord and breakup, I see hope for future in the last sentence "He did not look back."
Jill
Not a big Faulkner fan, but this story was amazingly written. So much communicated with so few words. Okay, so maybe Faulkner was brilliant.
Yashi McGowan
faulkner was amazing for showing the poor share croppers feelings its good to see the other side of these times
Camila
Not my favourite story, but incredibly eloquently written.
Nikki
not my favorite from Faulkner, but I still dig his style.
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William Cuthbert Faulkner was a Nobel Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer. One of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, his reputation is based mostly on his novels, novellas, and short stories. He was also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter.
The majority of his works are based in his native state of Mississippi. Though his work was published as earl
...more
More about William Faulkner...
The Sound and the Fury As I Lay Dying Light in August Absalom, Absalom! A Rose for Emily

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