Essays on Barn Burning

Barn Burning
Original title Barn Burning
Author William Faulkner
Genre Drama
Language English
Characters Colonel Sartoris Snopes, Abner Snopes, Colonel John Sartoris, Major de Spain, Lizzie
Published 1939
ISBN 978-0-394-73713-1
Book Summary
Essay Examples

Table of Contents

About Barn Burning Book

Barn Burning was written by William Faulkner, an American author and Nobel laureate. It is a short story that first appeared in Harper magazine, the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States.

Barn Burning was first released in the edition published in June 1939. The story is about how a young child views the dynamics of class warfare, vengeance, and the impact of Fathers. The kid’s name is Sarty Snopes, and he grew up with a father who is always angry and frustrated. Sarty’s father was a vengeful man who burned down other people’s barns. The kid was eventually caught in a dilemma on whether to remain loyal to his father or not. He eventually couldn’t stomach his father’s behavior.

Book Summary

The book begins in 1895 with a hungry 10-year-old kid being asked to testify against his father in a county drug store that also served as justice of the peace court. The boy’s father, Abner Snopes, is on trial for burning down Mr. Harris’s barn.

When the justice and defendant realize that the boy is in a bad spot, they decide to let him go and banish his father from the county. The father, in turn, whips Sarty, accusing him of almost betraying him in court. The man and his family relocate to a new county where they reside in a shack as a tenant farmer. A dispute about cleaning a rug ensues between the family and the person they work for.

Abner Snopes decides to burn down the man’s barn. The kid decides to warn the owner about it and ends up being run over by the owner before fleeing for his life. He later hears three gunshots, assumes his father is dead, and starts walking toward the woods, away from home.

Barn Burning Quotes

  •       Sarty Snopes: “He aims for me to lie, he thought, again with that frantic grief and despair. And I will have to do hit.”
  • Narrator (William Faulkner): “There was something about his wolflike independence and even courage when the advantage was at least neutral which impressed strangers as if they got from his latent ravening ferocity not so much a sense of dependability as a feeling that his ferocious conviction in the rightness of his actions would be of advantage to all whose interest lay with his.”
  •       Abner Snopes: “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,”
  •       Sarty Snopes: “Later, twenty years later, he was to tell himself, ‘If I had said they wanted only truth, justice, he would have hit me again.”

Essay Structure on Barn Burning


To catch your reader’s attention and make them flip through each page, you need to pay more attention to your essay’s introduction. Most students tend to beat around the bush in their introduction. However, this section is the best place to make your argument known and to take a stance.

In the book Barn Burning, we can find Sarty Snopes, a ten years old boy facing hell due to his father’s destructive nature. He had chosen not to betray his father in court. However, he still gets punished as his father thought he “almost” told the court the truth. This gives a great understanding of the book and the writer’s stance. This is where you explain your essay topic and explicitly state your motivation for writing the essay. Or a background story, if there is any.

Once your introduction is intact and catchy, you can start writing the body paragraphs containing your thesis.

The Body Paragraphs

When you have written a gripping introduction, another section to give attention to is the body paragraphs. A standard essay has a minimum of three body paragraphs. In the body paragraphs, you should expand your point of view. The body paragraphs will also contain the several research you had done as regards your essay.

However, you should start your body paragraphs with your strongest argument; your supporting points can come afterward. However, you don’t want to bore your readers; let your paragraphs be on point and avoid writing irrelevant points.  


The conclusion of your essay shouldn’t be a summary of your essay. However, it should be a means to assert your point and give one final thought. To have a good conclusion, take time to understand the book, and at the end, give the writers one last piece of knowledge to take home with them. The conclusion should contain your moral stand on the book and a call to action for a better family or society.

Tips to Consider While Writing An essay about Barn Burning

Read the book thoroughly

Unlike some other books, writing an essay on Barn Burning without reading the book is almost impossible. The themes and characters in the book are such that you cannot get a full picture by just reading the book summary. You would need to lay your hands on a hardcover copy or purchase an electronic version online and read through each chapter.

One benefit to reading a book chronologically and thoroughly is that you would be able to connect the ideas in each chapter as the writer intended. By the time you complete reading the book in this manner, you have a vivid insight into the writer’s mind. This makes you adequately informed about the essay you are about to write.

Find a Compelling Topic

Writing about a topic you are not interested in or don’t understand can be extremely boring. While you may force yourself to complete the task, you can certainly say that you could have done better.

To give your best when writing an essay about Barn Burning, you should pick a topic that you find very interesting. It is easy to have the right mindset and commit to diligent work when you are doing something you find quite interesting. You should also watch out for the required word count of your text.

Pick a topic that suits the number of words expected of you. If it’s a short essay, don’t go with a topic so vague and broad that it would take a lot of words to do justice to the title.

Create the Outline

An outline is a path you want to take readers of your essay through until you arrive at your logical conclusion. it is a series of points you wish to discuss in the right order. Your text must be written in a way that is easy to understand, especially when your text involves some research.

A proper outline ensures that your points are not distorted, with facts scattered all over. It is not enough to know what you want to write about; it is important that you expertly transition from one point to another. This would help retain the attention and interest of your reader. All of these are fixed when you work with an outline.

 Write the thesis statement

A good essay is not complete without a thesis. Your thesis should be detailed and simple. The thesis written will direct readers to know your stand on the argument. Once this is done, split your argument into at least three paragraphs, including your supportive points. However, you shouldn’t get carried away by writing irrelevant things; your point should come directly from the book.

Include a Lesson or Moral

Every creative work, especially writing, is done to address some vices in our society. The same with Ban Burning. However, the morals of the book are contained in the themes of the text. The morals might come at the end of the essay. A closing thought you want your readers to carry with them after reading. Automatically, the moral of your essay will clarify your position in the argument. 

In Barn Burning, Sarty is punished by his father even though he protected him. We also see the effect of his father’s destructive nature on him as he chooses to leave home and never come back again.  

Conclusion: Proofread your work

Once you have concluded your essay, don’t submit it without thoroughly reading your essay. While you might think you have written a perfect piece, you will find tiny errors as you read through it again. Errors such as spelling and grammar errors can be avoided after proofreading your essay. Not only that, you can find some arguments you need to change or expand on. 

An essay on Barn Burning may not come easy, so our team of professionals is available to give your essay the perfect touch.


What does Barn Burning mean?

The book Barn Burning literally was about setting fire to a barn. A tenant named Abner Snopes was a depraved arsonist who loved to set barns ablaze, especially belonging to anyone who annoyed him.

What is the story Barn Burning about?

The story of Barn Burning is about a 10-year-old boy, Sarty Snopes, whose father loved setting the barns on fire of the landowners he worked for. He is vengeful about the difference in class between him and wealthy patrons, and he feels life maltreated him.

Why did Abner burn the barn?

He is a deeply disturbed man who believed it was up to him to vent justice on anyone who has wronged him. When Abner’s hog invaded Mr. Harris’ crops and Abner didn’t like how he handled it, he set Mr. Harris’ barn on fire. When a dispute with Major de Spain becomes exacerbated, he also attempted to set his barn on fire.

What happens at the end of Barn Burning?

Sarty Snopes runs off into the woods and does not bother to confirm if the three gunshots he heard have killed his father. As far as he was concerned, Abner Snopes was dead to him, and he decided to keep walking away from his family, never to look back.

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