William Faulkner's "Barn Burning"

Discussion Questions

1.) What are the sources of tension / conflict in this story?

2.) How would you account for the actions of the father -- having burned the first barn, the rug incident, and going to burn the second barn? What is motivating the father to do these things?

3.) How would you account for the actions of the boy, especially as he seems ready to tell the truth about his father?

4.) Examine the boy’s “interior monologues,” the italicized parts of the story. What do these tell us about the boy, about others, about Faulkner’s style(s) of narration?

5.) Examine the references to the boy's sisters in the story. How and why does Faulkner describe the sisters the way he does?

6.) Examine the places in the story where the boy's mother and aunt appear. How and why does Faulkner describe these women the way he does?

7.) What are we “to take” from this story? What is the central theme or message? Are there other themes or messages as well?

8.) How would you describe Faulkner’s “style”? How does his compare to the styles of Porter, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway (all four were/are known for their unique styles)? Which style(s) do you prefer, and why?