Barn burning

8 August 2016

A child’s mind is easy to control and change their thought process due to them being confused in situations they don’t know much about. In “Barn Burning” William Faulkner focuses on the morals of society versus the morals of sticking with family through the eyes of a ten year old boy, Sartoris Snopes, and the situations he has faced because of his father’s acts of burning down peoples barns. Sartoris Snopes is the ten year old son of Abner Snopes who is a man of his own law and doesn’t follow society’s rules as he repeatedly claims “you got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to stick to you” (Mays, 191).

Abner teaches Sartoris that no one in this world will help another person but family always sticks together and if he doesn’t protect family, Sartoris will be left alone. In the first scene of the story, Faulkner shows Sartoris’s loyalty to his family that he is willing to lie for his father in the Justice of the Peace’s court despite Sartoris secretly not wanting to. “He aims for me to lie…with that frantic grief and despair. And I will have to do hit”. Sartoris is caught in between telling the truth of his father’s wrongful doings of burning down a landlord’s barn and lying to defend his family for they are all he has (Mays, 189).

Barn burning Essay Example

When the Snope’s new landlord, Major de Spain, confronts Abner that he has ruined the rug and not cleaned it properly, he demands twenty bushels of corn from his next harvest. After de Spain leaves, Sartoris approaches his father and says that Major de Spain is the one at fault for not telling his father how to properly clean the rug and that he shouldn’t receive any amount of corn bushels from their harvest. Sartoris shows his loyalty to Abner again during a court hearing about de Spain’s rug. Before the case was even announced, Sartoris says that Abner didn’t burn anything despite the hearing to be unrelated to the burning of anything.

This shows how Sartoris is still defending the family name and staying loyal to his own blood (another source). Although Sartoris argues that his father is righteous, he himself soon begins to hope for his father to change his aggressive ways towards the public. Upon seeing Major de Spain’s large and beautiful mansion, Sartoris feels joy and peace that he cannot find the words to describe. He hopes that this is the same feeling his father feels in the presence of such a house but he is “not dwarfed by the house”, showing Abner is not likely to change his intentions no matter the beauty (another source).

While Sartoris works the fields with his brother, he now “dreams” of a change of course for his father’s past ways and for all of the “terror and grief” to just be gone forever. Sartoris is beginning to realize that his father most likely won’t change who he is and later he might have to decide for himself what he wants in life (another source). After a long day at the court hearing, fixing the wagon, and looking at horses for sale, Abner has the same intentions as he always does to seek vengeance for his problems, to burn Major de Spain’s barn down.

He tells Sartoris to go fetch oil and at that point, Sarotoris questions his father’s intentions even though he already knew but he proceeds on to carrying out Abner’s commands. As he is running to get the oil, Sartoris envisions himself running away and never looking back to his old life. “I could run on and on and never look back, never need to see his face again. Only I can’t. I can’t” Sartoris wants the injustice of his father to just end but he doesn’t want to turn against his own blood as he was taught never to do (Mays, 198).

Despite his loyalty to his father, Sartoris questions his father why isn’t he going to at least send a messenger to warn Major de Spain. This is a strong indicator that Sartoris will begin to act on his own and follow what he believes is justice (another source). Abner realizes that Sartoris will go warn Major de Spain thus claiming his independence and betraying the family blood. “’If he gets loose…. He will go up Yonder’”, Abner wants to prevent Sartoris from having his own independence because this would take away from his family blood power (Mays, 199).

Sartoris’s aunt, Lizzie, agrees with her nephew about sending a warning to de Spain as Sartoris struggles free from his mother’s grasp. He runs all the way to de Spain’s house and bursts into the home gasping “barn! ” before he runs off back down the road. De Spain rides past the boy and Sartoris hears three gun shots shortly after de Spain disappears into the darkness. Sartoris runs the opposite way into a forest and finds himself at the top of a hill at midnight which symbolizes that Sartoris has reached a mid-point in his life where he has decided to part with his old life and live by his own laws (another source).

In the following morning, Sartoris feels better as he walks into the forest and “He did not look back”. This shows that he is ready to enter the world free from his old life of “grief and despair” (Mays, 201). “Barn Burning” shows how young Sartoris breaks free from his previous life of which his father forced him to be a fraud and commit unjust crimes under the name of family and live the life of his own rules.

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