Barn Burning

Essay by shabby_7College, UndergraduateA, July 2004

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Barn Burning

In the story "Barn Burning" by William Faulkner, Sarty Snopes is the son who is in conflict with his father's opinions. Sarty's views on this conflict become evident as the work progresses. The effectiveness of Sarty's point of view is shown during his conflict with his father, and his internal conflict between staying loyal to his family and doing the moral thing.

The views of Sarty are clearly shown throughout the story as the opposite of his father's. "The nights were still cool and they had a fire against it, a small fire, neat, niggard almost, a shrewd fire; such fires were his father's habit and custom always, even in freezing weather." The fire mentioned in the quote is a symbol of Abner's character. Abner is characterized as a cold hearted, hard, contemptuous, and arrogant man. Later on in the story, Sarty arrives at the De Spain's house, which reminds him of the courthouse.

The courthouse symbolizes Sarty's character and it represents justice and truth. Ironically, the courthouse was the place where the trouble started for Abner. Sarty could not display his real characteristics because it would hurt his relationship with his father. Sarty's loyalty to his father appeared to come from a long time fear of the consequences of not obeying his father's commands. Sarty thought, "Maybe he will feel it too. Maybe it will even change him now from what maybe he couldn't help but be." In this quote, Sarty hopes that the sight of the De Spain's house will help Abner change; because he knows he cannot do it himself. The moral backbone of Sarty is present, but the inability to display it is what causes the conflict.

The internal conflict of the story is morality versus loyalty. Sarty cannot decide...