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William Faulkner Biography And Analysis Of Barn Burning And Dry September

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About author and his early life

Americans have given the world great people among every field of life. If we look at the history of America we see that there are great novel writers, story writers, poets, actors, sportsmen or politicians. One of these great men was William Faulkner. William Cuthbert Faulkner was born on American soil on 25th September; 1897. He was born in New Albany. He was eldest his brothers and his parents were Murry Cuthbert Falkner and Maud Butler. After a year of his birth the family moved to Ripley. When he was five years old his family moved to Oxford where he lived for the rest of his life. His family and most particularly his mother and his nanny were fond of his brilliant imagination. They tried to teach him a visual language as both were painters as well as photographers. His mother valued education a lot and encouraged all of his sons to read and learn.

Much of the great thinkers and philosopher believe that the beast education and manners a man can get is through his mother. Same was the case with William Faulkner. As his mother taught him to read even before going to school. Thus He was a bright student in his early age but later on his interest in studies reduced and he ended up never graduating. During his teenage period he enjoyed drawing. He also found a pleasure in reading and writing. He also mimicked some actors when he was 12. He spent his early age listening to the stories of slavery and wars. He was also told stories of his great grandfather who was a great businessman and civil war her. Moreover he was also a writer.

At the age of seventeen he met a man who was his inspiration to write and influenced his wittings. That man was Philip Stone. William Faulkner was a gifted writer and he impressed Stone by his poetry at the beginning of his career. He encouraged William a lot. Stone was mentor to Faulkner. He pointed out his mistakes and helped him to correct them. He also introduced Faulkner to the efforts of greater writer and helped him a lot towards the path of great glory. When he was 20 years old he started writing poems and short stories but that were rejected when stone sent them for being published. That was the moment when Faulkner learnt that great glory comes after failure and failures are always a beginning of triumphs. Failure always gave a important lesson. He spent most of his life in Mississippi. He was a perfect blend of many arts. He was a great novel writer. His screenplays mesmerized people. His poetry always left marks on people’s heart. His essays were full of great endings. He was also enrolled in Ole Miss in Oxford but was dropped out. As he skipped classes he often received a D grade in English. But he continued to write his poems in the university and was much appreciated and some of his poems were able to make themselves to the campus publications. He is always famous for his novels and short stories. These novels and short stories were written in fictional Yoknapatawpha County.

Yoknapatawpha is derived from two different words Yocona and petopha which mean split land. This based on a Mississippi County which was Lafayette County. Faulkner was very proud of his County so he often referred to it as “my apocryphal county”. Besides his novels “A Fable, Pylon and The Wild Palms”, all other novels were set in this county. More than 50 of his stories were included in this county. Faulkner admitted in his speech at Virginia that the idea of Yoknapatawpha word came in his mind from the actual Yocona River. His work published in 1919. This was very early but yet his work was admired throughout the entire American land. The peak of his era was during 1920s and 1930s. Mississippi had produced a great number of people which worked for the betterment of nation but no one got a Nobel Prize.

In 1949 due to his extraordinary efforts in the field of literature, William Faulkner was the first man born in Mississippi to be awarded Nobel Prize. This was the era when William Faulkner became famous throughout the world and his work was admired around the globe. After then, he started to win other prizes like in 1954 he won Pulitzer Prize for Fiction on his novels “A Fable” and “The Reivers”. These two novels were considered to be a mastercalss of fiction. “The sound and the fury” was another great novel written by William Faulkner. It gained popularity among the novel readers. So by the Modern Library this novel was ranked sixth among the list of hundred best novels of English language of the twentieth century. A man is deeply affected by the environment he lives in, so was Faulkner. Faulkner was influenced by the history of America and the culture of black and white races. Due to his height he was not suitable for US Army.

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Barn Burning

This story occurs in Yoknapatawpha County. This story was set in 1930 which was an era of depression and tensions. Faulkner had a unique style of addressing his readers through the use of long sentences. Faulkner suggest that human behavior changes with the changing environment. It is a story of social inequality. The story explores the implication of having to try to run away from blood and your fathers own reputation. Ban burning is written in a point of view of an objective third person. Abner is the father in this story. He is a cruel man and does a lot of crimes because of which his family is unable to live in one place .They have to move every time due to the crimes committed by Abner. The main theme of this story is the fact that is blood thicker than water. To some people murdering someone isn’t a problem.

Life of someone is priceless to them. In the story Abner warns Sarty he is always going to be with his own blood and family. He is not going to change. He would always be a tenant farmer who gives part of crops for rent and his barn burning father. At the age of ten Sarty,s other brother were like his father. They think and behave the same way as their father does but Sarty was different from the rest of his brothers. Sarty think differently from his father. His thinking was different and had depth which his father lacks. He understood things from a different perspective. Sarty,s full name was Colonel Sartoris Snopes. His name also expresses a conflict that was arising from within him. Colonel Sartios which was his first name was a well known and was considered hero and an honest man. This name was in conflict with his last name as he was snopes-sharecropper and a barn burner. From beginning of the story it is obvious that where Sarty,s loyalties lie. Despite the fact that he knew his father would hit him, he was going to tell them about his father burning Harris’s barn. And when the time came he stood strong with what is right then sticking to his own blood. Sarty’s conflict within himself are clear and in the end when Abner survives the gunshot Sarty started walking as his family moves in an opposite direction. Barn Burning is a tough story for some of the readers as the writer hides some of the details within the story that were important. He does not give the plot easily rather you have to struggle and think upon it for the exact plot. But the story goes deep as you move forward to read.

The questions of family and loyalty to the family make it worth reading. Faulkner used settings to engage the readers in his writings. The first was the living condition of Snopes family which was much different from the landowners for whom they worked for and the story moves on by the destruction of property by snopes. Another unique setting of this writing is the courthouse which is simply a general store and is used for legal proceedings. This was the place where snopes was found to be guilty of crimes and was punished. Snope thought that he was not treated fairly as the court house wasn’t a real court house. When Sartoris sees de home he again thinks of courthouse this time rather bigger one because he had only seen the courthouse which was a general store. At the end of story, Sartoris was able to get rid of his father and escaped but the impact of this escape on his family is not stated which is unique perspective if Faulkner’s writing. Readers have to go through the story in depth to solve these puzzles left by Faulkner.

Dry September

Dry September was published in Scribner’s magazine in 1931.The story is about a rumor of a white woman and an African-American man. As the town was small so the rumor spread like a fire. Everybody in the town was gossiping about the two. No one exactly knew what had happened but most of the people believed that the woman was harmed. The man was kidnapped by some other men and was murdered and those who were the murderers were never punished. The picture that is made in the mind of reader after reading the first sentence of dry September creates a story’s scheme of imagery. The clear picture of a bloody twilight comes into the minds of readers that enlighten the fact that as we go further in the story there would be a lot of violence and drama. The writer builds up the horror caused by a murder in the mind of reader by using image that raise the sense of violence death and horror. As the barber rushes towards the street after McClendon and others the lights in the street in a violent suspension. The air seemed so calmed and terrifying.

The bloody September twilight had turned into evening leaving the light and hustle of day behind. The dark ruled all across. There was dark everywhere he looks. The sky seemed to be very clear as fresh waters. As the car moved it sounded like a blast. The fear of Violence and death rules the story. The violence of bloody September twilight has burned itself out the only remaining thing was the red dust. The murder of an innocent black man was not prevented by Hawkshaw, but he lives and can limp home. The ones which are not controlled by the races of men like Hawkshaw and continue to commit violence and inhumanity are finally absorbed by the eternal dust. The dust swallow them all leaving behind no mark. After some time no one even knew that they existed. The glare the charm everything was buried with them. Faulkner suspends one violent moment which was going to occur in a southern town, but the eternal cycle of life and death of timeless motion can absorb even the moments of violence.

The story is divided into five parts. Each part is full of suspense. The first and third part of story is about Hawkshaw. Hawkshaw is the barber and he tries to convince the mob not to hurt Mayes. Part two and four are about the white woman which is one of the most important characters of the story. The fifth and the last part of the story explain the violence of the story. In the story no section is devoted for the explanation of the victim Mayes. It may be due to the fact that he had not played any role in creating violence and violence was the main agenda of the novel. Only three characters from the entire story eager for violence. These three characters are McClendon, the youth and the drummer. These are the people who think they are the one who should dictate the ending of any event. The main conclusion for the readers in this writing is that sometimes no proof is required for someone to be guilty of a crime only a few rumors and accusation do the job.


  1. New York: Random House, 1974; revised one volume edition, 1984
  2. Nicholas A. Basbanes, A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for books(New York: Henry Holt,1999)
  3. Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, 09-25-2013,
  4. Sparknotes. Barn burning by William Faulkner.
  5. Owlcation. June 6, 2018.
  6. Catherine Sustana. Feb 23, 2019. ThoughtCo.

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