Point of View in Poe and Faulkner

Belen, Bryce
English 1B
March 22, 2010
Point of View in “Barn Burning” and “The Cask of Amontillado”

Both “The Cask of Amontillado”, by Edgar Allen Poe, and “Barn Burning”, by William Faulkner, tell stories of crimes that, for the most part, go unpunished. The stories vary greatly in style, plot and point of view, but use similar methods to impart ideas to the readers. “The Cask of Amontillado” is written as a first person account with limited omniscience - while “Barn Burning” is written in third person with centered consciousness. In both stories, the authors use point of view to either convey or exclude certain details regarding the crimes and their specific circumstances.
Poe's “Barn Burning” follows the story of the Snopes family – a lower class clan of tenant farmers led by Abner (Ab) Snopes. Ab is a cold, angry man that feels as if he is constantly being wronged by the world. He takes it upon himself to enact his own form of revenge upon the upper-class landowners that employ him by burning down their barns – and in essence their livelihoods. In the process he is also involving his family in his wrongful conduct. This story is written in a third person perspective through the eyes of Ab's youngest son Sarty – and at times the reader is also given glimpses of his inner thoughts. This gives us an outsiders' perspective to the crimes being committed by Ab. In the beginning of the story, Sarty refers to the Justice of the Peace that is judging his father's trial as “our enemy”. At this point he is supportive of his father's decisions and obeys his father. Later, Ab scolds Sarty for not lying to the Justice, telling him that “[he's] got to learn to stick to [his] own blood” or else he “ain't going to have any blood to stick to [him]” (Faulkner, pg. 359). This summarizes one of the main conflicts in the story. Sarty is torn between staying loyal to his family, as his dad has tried to teach him, and his personal concepts of justice and morality....