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Abner Snopes: Cold Authority

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In "Barn Burning," Abner is described as stiff, wolf-like, and without heat because of his coldness and bitterness toward society in which he was part of during the time of the War Between the States. The main character is Abner Snopes who sharecrops to make a living for his family; in his story, Faulkner describes a typical relationship between wealthy people and poor people during that particular time.

When described as stiff, we see Abner's abruptness and coldness towards his family as well as others in his community. Abner's authoritative

figure makes his coldness more threatening and his patriarchal figure puts more force into his coldness. Faulkner portrays him as wolf-like and without heat as well; this description shows us that Abner is not only cunning in his crime, but also emotionless when committing the crime. For example, when burning barns, he dispassionately watches the barns burn down.

Abner Snopes sharecrops for a living. His sharecropping results in his resentment of the wealthy. As you know, sharecroppers are tenant farmers who pay as rent a share of their crop for wealthy people. Sharecropping was common during this era; McCullough notes that "when the sharecroppers receive their portion of the money from the crops they plant, the debts they have developed comes out of their half of the money. This often leaves the sharecropper with nothing. Between the debt and the hard working conditions, a second form of slavery is created. It was not slavery with a person literally being owned but one of holding a person because they have no choice to go elsewhere. The landowners were the dominant persons in society while the workers were part of the lowest class." (Sharecropping, From the reading, it seemed that Abner did not like his sharecropper living because he believed that this kind of life makes him exactly like the slaves owned by the rich and wealthy--and his resentment comes from there. As a result of his resentment, Abner burns barns for vengeance.

What he did to the DeSpain's rug is an example of his coldness. Abner forced his way into the DeSpain's mansion and dirties their rug with his manure-ridden boots. After Abner dirtied the DeSpain rug, he was told to clean it. Instead of cleaning the rug, Abner further dirtied it with a rock which further ruined the rug. His coldness also came to play when he demanded that his daughters clean the rug in pots of lye and then hang up the rug so that it can dry. Later, Abner was charged with the damages he did to the DeSpain's rug. The evidence of this event proved to Abner that the social system of society only works in behalf of the wealthy. This evidence is supported in the social system of Capitalism we see today. "Under this system, the means for producing and distributing goods (the land, factories, technology, transport system, etc.) are owned by a small minority of people, the rich and the wealthy." (What is Capitalism? These groups of people as we know it are part of the capitalist class. In knowing this kind of evidence, Abner sets out in the night to burn the DeSpain's barn.




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