Killings and Barn Burning

December 27, 2016 General Studies

Differences and Similarities Between Matt Fowler in Andre Dubus” Killings and Abner Snopes in William Faulkner’s Barn Burning.

Justice is not a word that appears very often in the average person’s speech. This does not stop writers, or their characters for that matter, from writing about the topic. Two prime examples are Matt Fowler in Andre Dubus” Killings and Abner Snopes in William Faulkner’s Barn Burning. Through several examples, as well as a critic’s views, it will become clear that there are many dissimilarities and congruencies between Matt and Abner.

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The most obvious discrepancies between the two are the literal ones, such as setting. Matt lives in a beach town near Boston during the late half of the twentieth century. Abner drifts through the South a short time after the Civil War. While they are both fathers, Matt cares for and worries about his children [” when his children were young he thought of them drowning in a pond or the sea, and he was relieved when he came home in the evenings and they were there- (Meyer, 88)]. Abner does not care for his children and only views them like farm animals, just there to help with the work. This is evinced best by Faulkner’s line, “His father struck him exactly as he had struck the two mules at the store.” (496). .

The two are distinct not only literally but symbolically as well. Matt embodies what a father is supposed to be: loving, caring, supportive, and yet stern when times call for it. He agrees with his son Frank’s decision to see Mary Ann and supports him. He also disciplines Frank when he feels that it is necessary and advises him. Matt also represents the proverbial “last straw.” He is an example of a man who is driven to do the unthinkable. He kills Richard Strout not because he wants to but because he has to, for his wife’s sake as well as his own.

Abner Snopes, on the other hand, represents the “New South.” He is a symbol of the downfall of the Old South after the Civil War and its industrialization.


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