Essay, Research Paper: Barn Burning By Faulkner

Literature: William Faulkner

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Barn Burning by William Faulkner, the character Colonel Sartoris Snopes, or
Sarty, exhibits many interesting traits. The majority of these characteristics
are seen through his thoughts that the author includes periodically throughout
the story. The thoughts in the reading should cause one to come to the
conclusion that young Sarty is definitely a dynamic character. In the beginning
of the story in the courtroom scene, the reader is first introduced to the idea
that Sarty is very proud of and in awe of his father. This is shown when Sarty
is thinking about his father’s enemy being his as well, “ourn! mine and hisn
both! He’s my father!.” These declarations are very clear and sharp with the
meaning; Sarty respects his father and is exceedingly proud to be his son, and
he will help defend him however necessary. This includes lying to a judge in a
court of law as seen in the next thought of Sarty, “He aims for me to
lie...And I will have to do hit.” Sarty is willing to put his own honesty on
the line to help his father Abner. Soon though, after the trial is over, Sarty
begins to question his father and his foolish actions. When the family is on the
wagon leaving the town from which they had been banished, Sarty says to himself,
“Maybe he’s done satisfied now, now that he has...” He now begins to see
that perhaps his father is not so perfect and just. As the family arrives at the
doors to their next home, Sarty admires greatly the owner’s palatial living
quarters. The mere sight of such an enormous and wonderful place makes him think
that it is “impervious to the puny flames he (Abner) might contrive...”
Sarty is very optimistic about their new situation and thinks of his father,
“Maybe he will feel it too. Maybe it will even change him now from what maybe
he couldn’t help but be.” Now, rather than feeling proud of his father for
what he is, Sarty shows that he wants Abner to change; it can even be concluded
that Sarty somewhat pities his father for not being able to control himself.
Despite all the feelings Sarty has of his father and the wrong-doings, Sarty
still obeys him. This is evident when Sarty is getting the oil for his father,
but Sarty does question what he is doing. He thinks to himself as he is running
to the stable, “I could keep on...I could run on and on and never look back,
never need to see his face again. Only I can’t. I can’t.” That was the
turning point for Sarty, as it was the final time he shows any respect for his
father and his deeds. Also, it was the first time he contemplates fleeing from
his father. The final scene of the story is where it is most evident that Sarty
is a dynamic character. After he gets away from his mother, he runs to warn the
Major de Spain of the impending doom, thus crossing his father’s will, showing
no respect, and disapproving the unjustified torching of yet another barn. He
then begins to run. Only when two shots are heard in the distance, Sarty pauses
briefly to cry out for his doomed father. He then begins on his way for a new
life, one without the fear of his father and threat of arson. All these thoughts
signify a great change within Sarty. He is indeed a dynamic character, one who
at first loved and defended his father, but later turned against him and his
lunacy.
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