Barn Burning

by: William Faulkner

Lennie Snopes

Opposite Abner Snopes, with his penchant for revenge and destruction, is Lennie Snopes, a voice of reason and morality in the family. Because her morals are so different from her husband’s, Lennie sharpens the conflict that Sartoris faces as he attempts to form his own ideas of right and wrong. The fact that Lennie has not simply succumbed to her domineering, violent husband makes her character remarkable. Surely, her spirit has been wounded by the grinding cycle of poverty, crime, and rootlessness to which Snopes has subjected the family. She has also endured physical violence throughout her married life. Lennie’s spirit has not been broken completely, however. She repeatedly attempts to stop Snopes from lashing out at the landowners who provide the family’s livelihood, even though her attempts are unsuccessful. Her unbroken spirit is perhaps most evident in the way she has influenced Sartoris. Although Lennie is forced into a quiet, inferior position in the family, she has managed to instill her values in Sartoris, despite the overwhelming, corrupting influence that Snopes tries to enforce. Although Lennie is abandoned by Sartoris in the end, he leaves because she has quietly taught him that it is the right thing to do.