Barn burning is a story developed and written by William Faulkner. The story takes a stage of a boy who is the main character, with his father. The boy decides not to be governed by the directions of his father. To avoid all the commotion he gets from the father, he decides to go away from home. His father is a barn burner who is literally a former thief. In the story, we are told that he infringes on other people due to the fact that he is independent in all his doings. He does a number of dealings to the people, measures which are actually unethical. He burns other people's barns and that he constantly ruins his land-lords rag. Moreover, he is very harsh to his family yet they live in sheer poverty. Besides this, he does not care much of his wife and the children, one being the boy. He expects a lot from the boy, even those which the boy cannot do (Nechvatal, 1980).
One of the themes in the story is that of cruelty. In this story, the father of the boy is administered cruel in his character. This is depicted in his personality to the family and to the other people in the society. He is therefore cruel to the family and to the society. He does not even know that he is a well-known thief. First, he mistreats his poor family. He involves himself on activities that ruin the integrity of the family and even the society as a whole. When he gets annoyed by other people, he resolves to attack their property and destroy them. This is cruelty. Furthermore, he handles the boy in a very rude way. He even goes to a point of behaving inhuman. There are other scenarios which exemplify the theme of cruelty in the story (Nechvatal, 1980).
The setting of the story is a clear explanation of the theme of cruelty. Here, the main characters of concern are the father and the son. The two characters are in a tag of war over an issue that they should have solved at the family level. The setting of the characters has been placed in a position that people expect cruelty to be very rare. This creates an emphasis of the theme. It makes it clear and gives it a shocking nature that attracts readers to easily notice. Sarty, the boy falls in the hands of a cruel father whose main concern is to demand respect and adoration from the boy instead of being a role model. This gets to the point of making the boy want to run away from home. The setting of the characters has clearly brought out this theme of cruelty. The characters engage in episodes that exemplify the theme of cruelty in some of them, for instance the father of the boy (Faulkner, 2007).
The plot of the story has been developed in a way to explore into the theme of cruelty. First and foremost, the story begins with an episode where Abner Snopes, the father of the boy is being driven out of the town after burning the barn of a neighbor. The barn was with the animals, but fortunately the owner of these barns was able to save the animals. He further goes to an extent of damaging the rag of one of the people called de Spain. He sets again to a plot of wanting to set on fire the barn of de Spain. There is some kind of commotion between Abner and de Spain. Abner is aiming at destroying the property of de Spain who is trying to rescue the same. At the same time, there is the sound of gun shots which try to disperse the commotion. Abner is the main character who is becoming distrustful to the people of the entire town. This setting of the plot exemplifies the theme of cruelty (Faulkner, 2007).
Symbolism has also been used to portray the theme of cruelty in the story. The theme of cruelty is mainly demonstrated by the characters depicted in the story. There are a number of symbols that have been employed in the story. Fire is one of these symbols. Normally, fire is a symbol of destruction. The kind of destruction that has transpired in the story is that of cruelty. This is further reiterated by the condition in which fire is used in the story and the immediate reactions that people give concerning the fire itself. Fire represents the father's anger. Through this anger, he acts in a cruel way to the family and the neighborhood. The "pool of blood" is another symbol that has been made use of in the story. This is a clear indication of a quarrel or a fight between two or more people. The pouring of blood is mainly the initiative of Abner, who does a quantity of activities that are not pleasing to the people of the entire society. This pool of blood is therefore is as a result of abner's cruel behavior (Faulkner, 2007).