William Faulkner was one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. During his life, Faulkner wrote many novels and over seventy-five short stories. He is notorious for his unique writing techniques, characterized by flashbacks and constantly changing points of view. The world of Faulkner’s short fiction is Shakespearean in its multiplicity of characters and its variety of nuance, gesture, time, and place Individualism, the connection between the past and the present, and race constantly arise in Faulkner’s short fiction.
The theme of individualism often appears in Faulkner’s short fiction. Edmond L Volpe notes that “many of his stories and novels depict the numerous threats to individualism posed by modern society, by moral righteousness and moral rigidity, by taboos, and by traditions” (21). The theme of individualism is shown in the story “Barn Burning.” In “Barn Burning,” after he finds out about his fathers plan to take revenge on Major de Spain; Sarty Snopes must make a life changing decision. He must choose to either warn de Spain or keep quiet and let his father commit the crime. Sarty’s choice of ratting out his father reveals his individualistic character. Although Sarty feels he must remain loyal to his family, his belief in what is right takes over. Sarty’s loyalty to honor and justice makes him an individual in his own family, in the end he is left alone to start a new life.
Individualism is also seen in the McCallum family. In “The Tall Men,” and official goes to the McCallum home to arrest two young men for failing to register for the World War II draft. There he finds an individual family “apart from society” (Volpes 22). Ignoring the official’s protests, Buddy McCallum instructs his sons to go to Memphis and enlist. The official finds it extremely hard to grasp the McCallum family’s strong individualistic spirit and feeling of responsibility.
Along with “Barn Burning” and “The Tall Men”, “Uncle Willy” also expresses the theme...