Essay, Research Paper: Barn Burning By Faulkner

Literature: William Faulkner

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In William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning,” the main character is Colonel
Sartoris Snopes, or “Sarty” for short. This young boy is torn between
loyalty to his father and morality, and this story deals with that struggle.
Sarty is a “round” character, changing through the story as he moves from
“sticking to his own blood” to thinking more of himself and his own welfare.
At first he is extremely loyal to his father, but as the paternal figure digs a
deeper and deeper hole for himself and his family, Sarty realizes that this is
simply an extremely vicious cycle. In the opening scene, he thinks that his
father wants to lie, and acknowledges that he will have to do so, despite strong
feelings that it is the wrong thing to do. He fears his father more than he
wishes to act as he would like. Sarty watches his father get kicked out of town,
track manure over his new employer’s rug, suffer the indignity of having to
clean it, and then burn the landlord’s barn down. As this occurs, he drifts
more and more out of the mindset that his father might reform and gain some
sense of responsibility and justice, and settles into the view that he will have
to take action to stop this from occuring. Eventually, Sarty warns the landlord
that his father is burning his barn, and then leaves his family. This is an
entrance into another style of life, another view of life, and a new freedom
that all would have been nonexistant if he had remained in his father’s grip.
Sarty has changed from a boy too afraid of his father to take action to a young
man, aware of the consequences of his actions and willing to face them in lieu
of remaining where he was.
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