Essay, Research Paper: Paul`s Case And Barn Burning

Literature: William Faulkner

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The stories “Barn Burning” written by William Faulkner and “Paul’s
Case” written by Willa Cather both have two separate characters with very
similar troubles. Each has a uniquely sad narrative. “Barn Burning” is a sad
story because it not only shows the classical struggle between the
underprivileged and the privileged classes, but also the struggle between a
father and his son, Sarty. Together, these two boys share comparable lifestyles.
Each has conflicts with his father, fantasize of a wealthier existence, and flee
from the tribulations in his life. Sarty’s main dilemma is his loyalty to his
family, which collides with his disappointment and suppressed dislike for his
own father. He tends to hide his feelings by denying the facts, “our enemy he
thought in that despair: ourn! mine and his both! He’s my father!” (Faulkner
171). Sarty appears to be fearful of his father: “If I would have said they
wanted only truth, justice, he would have hit me again. But now he said nothing.
He was not crying. He jut stood there.” (Faulkner 173) In comparison, Paul and
his father also have conflicts and Paul too seems to be afraid of his own
father. He decides that he would much rather spend the night in the cellar of
his house than go inside and face his father. Paul does not feel as much at home
when he is at his father’s house as he does at Carnegie Hall where he works as
an usher and spends most of his time. Paul’s teachers and his father believe
his working at the theater affects his schooling. As a result, Paul’s father
takes him out of school and forces him to work for a company referred to only as
the "firm of Denny and Carson" as an office boy. Paul’s dream to
live like the stars is taken away when his father forbids him to work, visit, or
go anywhere near the theater. It is at Carnegie Hall that Paul became struck by
the glitter and the starlight of the stage. He is not star struck in the sense
that he wanted to perform in any way; he is simply content to observe others'
performances. He is struck in the sense that he wants to live the way the
characters in the plays do. He imagines them living to all the extent of their
money, glutting on beautiful music, art, and life. Sarty, like Paul, is somewhat
materialistic. He dreams of a large house and the comfort of money. He desires
to be in a higher-class distinction despite his father’s bitterness regarding
the upper class. Sarty views the de Spain mansion as a citadel protected against
momentary stings from his father, “the buzzing wasp.” (Faulkner 174) His
father sees the house as “pretty and white,” built on “sweat, nigger
sweat. Maybe it ain’t white enough yet to suit him. Maybe he (de Spain) wants
to mix some white sweat with it.” (Faulkner 175) Paul pocketed nearly one
thousand dollars from the cash in the deposit belonging to the company his
father made him work for. His dream is shorted by his crime when the story of
his theft and his father's search is published in quite a few large newspapers.
Instead of facing his crimes and his father, he jumps in front of a train,
thereby, of course, committing suicide. Paul's last thoughts are on the things
that he will never get to do, because he ended it all before his time. Like
Paul, Sarty runs away from the only life he has ever known and all of his
family. Sarty wants to live out his dream, which consists of a moral life
according to his own values.
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