In Faulkner's Barn Burning, the tale of a southern sharecropper's family forced into a nomadic existence by the both the political and social structure following the Reconstruction, Abner Snopes stands out as a wholly callous and insensitive patriarch as well as a vicious and malevolent poster-child for the oppressed proletariat tenant-farmers. Abner Snopes is the father of Colonel Sartoris Snopes, the young .
The economic status of the main characters is poor, without hope of improving their condition, and at the mercy of a quasi-feudal system in North America during the late 1800's. Being a sharecropper, Ab and his family had to share half or two-thirds of the harvest with the landowner and out of their share pay for the necessities of life. As a result of this status, Ab and his family know from the start what the future will hold -- hard work for their landlord and mere survival for them.
No hope for advancement prevails throughout the story. Sarty, his brother and the twin sisters have no access to education, as they must spend their time working in the fields or at home performing familial duties. Nutrition is lacking "He could smell the coffee from the room where they would presently eat the cold food remaining from the mid-afternoon meal" (PARA. 55). As a consequence, poor health combined with inadequate opportunity results in low morale. A morale which the writer is identifying with the middle class of his times "that same quality which in later years would cause his descendants to over-run the engine before putting a motor car into motion" (PARA. 20) .
The Snopes family manages to survive and find work. However, the work offers little other than a chance for survival "I reckon I'll have a word with the man that aims to begin tomorrow owning me body and soul for the next eight months" (PARA 40). Like nomads they were forced to move constantly. Due to seasons and crop rotation, in order to secure work.