Crime and punishment are popular topics for literary works, under which many issues may be raised. These include relationships within the family, strangers, superiors, and subordinates, racial issues, infatuation, and jealousy. In this case, William Faulkner’s Barn Burning and Edgar Allan Poe’s Cask of Amantillado raise the topic of crimes that go unpunished. However, in these works, an essential aspect is the point of view, with the help of which the author gives the reader background information about motives, mood, and crime. Different points of view reveal additional facts, which gives the reader an opportunity to reflect. The aim of the work is to analyze how the point of view in the selected two stories affects the disclosure of the crime, motives, and justification.
The first story, William Faulkner’s Barn Burning, is about the son’s relationship with his father and the rest of the family. This topic is raised through the prism of the history of a family that is in a difficult situation and which is looking for ways to soak and live (Faulkner 4). The story begins with the fact that the father of the protagonist, Abner Snopes, is in court (Faulkner 2). The father is accused of setting fire to the barn of a certain Mr. Harris, and the protagonist, a boy, named Sarti, Abner’s son, must answer before the court. Sarti is terrified as one realizes that one should lie to the judge in favor of his father so that Mr. Abner would not be found guilty (Faulkner 3). However, Mr. Harris and the judge understand the position they are putting the boy in and let them go.
After the trial, Sarti was beaten by his father for being on the verge of betrayal in court due to long deliberation. Soon, they arrived at a new house where the father came into conflict with the owners and was shot dead. It happened after Abner deliberately went into horse excrement and stained the carpet of the owners of the house. It is worth noting that there was also a race aspect to the story, with Abner swearing at an African American servant after asking him to clear his boots (Faulkner 7). After his father was shot, Sarti grieved and reflected on Abner’s courage and life. However, the boy accepted this fact and continued on his way to the goal despite all the obstacles.
The second story, Cask of Amantillado by Edgar Allan Poe, tells about the revenge of a fellow main hero. Montresor, in the first person, narrates about the night when the hero committed retribution and killed his friend (Poe 83). The exact motives for this incident are unknown, however, the reader can find out that Fortunato mocked the hero (Poe 83). Thus, Montresor dreamed of revenge all his life, and that night one made it a reality by killing his offender. The hero walled Fortunato into the wall, having previously taken advantage of the weak point of his enemy, namely the passion for wine. After Montresor tricked him into getting drunk and lured him to the scene of the crime, Fortunato was tied and walled up.
In both works, the point of view is an essential aspect under which the authors represent crimes. In Barn Burning, it was articulated in the third person, namely from the point of view of the son. Thus, the author allows the reader to analyze the situation and motives from the outside and also reveals the relationship between the son to his father. It is worth noting that one does not know the motives for setting fire to the first shed, but the attempt to set fire to the second is revealed through the point of view. It formulates the basic circumstances of the crime, namely the conflict and character of Abner. In addition, the author shows the consequences of the actions of the characters, again, with the help of a third person and the son’s point of view.
In Edgar Allan Poe’s Cask of Amantillado, the story is told in the first person, which articulates the author’s intention to focus more on psychologism. In this story, psychologism includes the disclosure of the experiences and psychological state of the protagonist during the preparation and the crime itself. This point of view reveals to the reader the motive for the crime, however, it is silent on the details. In addition, with the help of a first-person transmission, the author introduces the reader to the main character, conveying his actions and thoughts. Moreover, such a point of view reveals in detail the basic circumstances of the crime and the settings.
To conclude, it is worth noting that the point of view is an important aspect that helps to trace the emphasis placed by the author. In the story Cask of Amantillado, it also includes intentional inconsistencies created by the author to add an atmosphere of mystery. For example, Fortunato, who is supposedly a professional wine taster and connoisseur, drinks a bottle of an expensive drink in one gulp. It indicates that the hero is unlikely a professional taster. In Barn Burning, the point of view conveys the relationship between father, son, and family. In addition, in both stories, it shows some background events that represent a degree of justification.
Faulkner, William. Barn Burning. Web.
Poe, Allan. Cask of Amantillado. Web.