In “Barn Burning,” William Faulkner depicts a young boy’s journey from adolescence to manhood. Ten years old, Colonel Sartoris(Sarty) Snopes struggles both internally and externally in pleasing his father and his own soul. Faulkner uses Sarty as an emblem of purity shaped easily for better or for worse. Presented with perplexing decisions, Sarty makes solutions that yield metamorphic outcomes. In Sarty’s journey he deciphers between the desire to stay loyal, instinct to seek justice, and search to synthesize adulthood.
Jason Behr, who is an American film actor, says, “It is not about finding a home so much as finding yourself.” Behr’s quote relates to Williams Faulkner’s story, Barn Burning because Sartoris, who starts as a skinny and hungry boy, ends as a courageous, independent, and hungry boy. Sartoris Snopes is a son of Abner and Lennie, who also has three other children. Sartoris is two out of the four siblings that Abner takes on his felonies and court rearrangements. At the beginning of the story, Abner is on trial for being accused of burning Mr. Harris’s barn; Sartoris is called to the stand. Abner and his family are asked to leave the country and never come back.
Once we reach the end of the story, Sarty has finally realized that his father is a “ruthless” and “bloodless” man. (Byrne) Abner is on his way to burn down de Spain’s barn and Sarty knows he has to warn him. His family decides to hold on to him to not let him go but Sarty breaks free and runs down the road to tell de Spain what his father intends on doing. This is the moment when Sarty changed dramatically in the story. He broke the loyalty with his father and solved his self-conflict.
As the ending comes to play, Sarty’s compliments become sparse. Which leads to the tones becoming different surrounding them. After Abner runs from the burning barn he spoke of his father in a courageous or heroic sense. Sarty’s mentioning, “He 's was in the war” (154) shows how he wanted those around him to remember his dad as a brave man and overlook him as an individual who burns barns. Although he doesn 't condone his father and his actions, he still seems to care.
Reading the story “Barn Burning” has not only given me another reason to just do another typical assignment, it has also shown how all the events that occurred can happen at any time to a regular civilian. A main character in the story would be Abner Snopes who has the characteristic of a cold hearted individual. He has let the fact of his poor conditions lead him on to make disastrous decisions. Mr. Snopes has been described in the story as a mercenary who fought in the Civil War. While being in service during this time period, he stole horses used during the war and would sell them to someone who would bid the highest.
The justice looks like the major issue of the plot, as Abner’s actions are explained by himself and his family as a response to an insult. But it is clear the man’s logic is twisted; Abner Snopes provoked all incidents by himself to create a reason to excuse his desire for fires. The final scenes of the story suggest the justice was served, as the man was caught during his final crime. But this is also a complex situation, as other family members, who did not support Abner’s position directly, did not experience the improvement in their living conditions and even could be hurt or killed. The story starts with the description of a trial, where Abner Snopes was accused in burning of his neighbor’s barn.
“Barn Burning” William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” shows what happens when a boy is faced with making decisions about morals and loyalty to one's own family. Sarty is the son of a man who burns barns and has no regard for what society expects. The themes in “Barn Burning” show the conflict of the characters. For the boy, the themes that apply are “the human heart in conflict with itself” and ‘’the need to balance between demands of self and responsibility to one’s society.” Sarty is faced with a tough internal conflict. For him, a decision needs to be made, and there are really only two choices available for him.
Mr. Harris is landowner, who is left with a burned barn and no legal option. Snopes is advised to leave the country because the court can’t find enough evidence to sentence him. His son Sarty Snopes chooses to warn the owner. “Barn Burning” offers a helpful picture of how Faulkner sees the economics of the postbellum South, where the poor whites remain the underclass rivals of black sharecroppers (Pierce).
In “Barn Burning,” the theme of loyalty and betrayal contribute greatly to the main conflict of the short story. Though this theme dominates throughout the story, it goes hand-in-hand with the theme of morality. With immense pressure from his father, Sarty struggles to determine the role that loyalty to family plays in morality. In Sarty’s situation, there are a few factors delaying his decision: his father’s abuse and disappointment in him in general. In “Barn Burning” William Faulkner writes, “‘You would have told him.’ He didn’t answer.
Faulkner dives deeper into the pressure that Sartoris faced to remain loyal to his father when the family camped for the final night before they expected to arrive at the new home the father had found for them. After dinner, Sarty is called by his father onto the road where his father proceeds to accuse the boy of planning to tell the Justice of the Peace the truth, that his father was the one who burnt the barn down, even though Sartoris had silently made up his mind and was planning on defending him. His father then struck him in the face and with it came the words, "you got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain 't going to have any blood to stick to you" (par. 28). This line plays a vital role in the creation of the theme, inner conflict, as it further explains the situation that the young boy was in.