An Analysis of Abner Snopes as a Tragic Hero in Barn Burning by William Faulkner

Why is Abner Snopes a tragic hero? A tragic hero is a great or virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy who is destined for downfall, suffering, or defeat. Abner Snopes did have a downfall at the end of William Faulkner’s Barn Burning as he was killed by Major de Spain, yet he wasn’t great nor virtuous. Snopes is an interesting example of a tragic hero due to the fact that he doesn’t really have a flaw that is beyond his control, like most tragic heroes, yet he does fight for someone other than himself.

Via his own methods, Abner Snopes fights against social oppression, specifically the pressure applied by the upper class on the lower class. Normally barn burning would not be considered a way to stop oppression, but Snopes tries to “burn away” the sins that the upper class have caused. Do to his tragic end and fight for the lower class Abner Snopes is a tragic hero.

What role does family loyalty play in this story vs. Justice and Morality? In Barn Burning one of the main focuses is the importance of loyalty to one’s family even if it means disobeying or breaking the law. Colonel Sartoris gets his morality from his mother, which is why at the beginning Sartoris wanted to tell the judge that his father had burned down the barn, yet he was quickly reminded by his father that blood comes first no matter what. Sartoris stays loyal to his father until the end when he runs to Major de Spain and yells “Barn!” At this point Sartoris decided that his personal morals about what is right and wrong won over family loyalty.

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I believe due to Abner’s cruelty to his family Sartoris finally decided it was not worth sticking with his father as he continued to break the law.

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An Analysis of Abner Snopes as a Tragic Hero in Barn Burning by William Faulkner. (2022, Feb 21). Retrieved from

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