Internal Conflict In Barn Burning

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In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” This quote holds true for the central theme of loyalty when a character is given the power of knowledge and morality within a family conflict. When one is put on stand for court and given the choice to tell the truth or stand with his family, it becomes an internal conflict with oneself along with the hardship of life in the past. In William Faulkner’s short story “Barn Burning,” he is able to illustrate how family struggle, morality, and social structure affected the lives of many families after the Civil War.

The particular family within the story focuses on two of the characters: Abner and his son Colonel Sartoris, or Sarty for short. They are brought to court in response to Mr. Harris’ barn being set on fire. The judge requests proof that Abner has set the barn on fire. Mr. Harris describes what happened when approached by Abner's friend, “'He say to tell you wood and hay kin burn.' ... the [negro] said. 'Wood and hay kin burn.' That night my barn burned. I got the stock out but I lost the barn.” (263). The judge cannot find Abner guilty but does demand, "This case is closed. I can't find against you, Snopes, but I can give you advice. Leave this country and don't come back to it," forcing the Snopes
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Not only does Abner and his son Sarty face challenges together because of Abner’s actions, but the challenges demonstrate how the morality of a person’s mindset and the social structure in this time made life for them more difficult than imagined. Denis Waitley once said “Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing,” which effectively describes the actions of Abner in the short
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