Barn Burning Social Class Theme

Then he might have gone a step farther and thought that that was the reason: that niggard blaze was the living fruit of the nights passed during those four years in the woods hiding from all men, blue and gray, with his strings of horses (captured horses, he called them).

Faulkner also uses several similes and metaphors to compare Abner’s desire for burning as “the living fruit of nights…the deep mainspring of his father’s being…as the element of steel and powder…as the one weapon for the preservation of integrity.” Such similes and metaphors make specific and understandable the abstract qualities of Abner.

The images of living fruit, mainspring, steel, powder and weapon get deep into his father’s psyche: His strength, pride, resilience, and power.

Third and the most important, students do not have the terms or vocabulary to discuss style.

The limited knowledge they have about grammar and punctuation is not enough to help them appreciate the author’s literary language and be able to discuss its effectiveness and creativity.

Su shares his approach to bringing students’ attention to style in fiction with William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” as an example.

When discussing a short story, students usually understand the literary elements such as conflicts, characters, setting, point of view, theme, and style.Here I offer five suggestions: First, read it aloud: Short stories are written not just to be read silently; they should also be read aloud so that readers can better appreciate the author’s use of syntax, rhythm, rhyme, tone, and irony.Second, instructor-led discussion is very important: As has been mentioned before, students often lack experience and practice in discussing style of a particular story; therefore, it is important for the instructor to demonstrate by many examples how to conduct a stylistic analysis of a short story, how to select certain sections of the story for a close analysis of its diction, syntax, and use of the figures of speech.The passage as a whole stands out as a testimony of not only Abner’s multidimensional and complex personality but also Faulkner’s masterful command of style to bring Abner vividly to readers.The detailed analyses I outlined above should be practiced in the beginning weeks of the semester so that students know how to conduct a stylistic analysis.Commenting on the mixed consciousness of the two narrators, James Ferguson writes, “The tensions between the awareness of the boy and the information supplied by the authorial voice undergird and emphasize the conflicts between youth and age, innocence and sophistication, intuition and abstraction, decency and corruption, all of which lie at the core of the work” (96).Thus the two perceptions and styles complement and enrich each other, helping readers to gain a deep insight into his father’s psyche.They often do not pay much attention to how literary language is different from the colloquial language.Even if they notice some differences, they often gloss them over.Style is often described as the author’s characteristic way of using language to create literature.It is the writer’s habitual use of certain rhetorical patterns, including sentence length and complexity, word choice and placement, and punctuation.


Comments Barn Burning Social Class Theme

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