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Barn Burning

Barn Burning

by William Faulkner

The Wagon on Moving Day

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Here are the stated contents of the Snopes's wagon on moving day:

[…] the battered stove, the broken beds and chairs, the clock inlaid with mother of pearl, which would not run, stopped at some fourteen minutes past two o'clock of a dead and forgotten day and time, which had been his mother's dowry. (18)

Everything in the wagon is broken. This sad array provides a vivid image of the Snopes family's existence, and of their poverty. The clock is particularly intriguing. It tells us that at one time somebody cared enough for Lennie to buy her something of beauty, that at one time, her marriage to Abner might have been considered a cause for celebration. It also shows how time seems to have stopped for the family. They are trapped in a cycle that never lets them move forward. It's the same time everywhere they go. The Snopes family operates on Abner time. Under his clock, nobody in the family could hope to have their own time. Think of how Abner rouses Sarty from sleep at odd hours according to his own whims. The time when Lennie and the kids owned their own time is "dead and forgotten." When Sarty runs away, he takes back his time but the broken clock will live on in his mind, reminding him of a when his time belonged to someone else.

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