Barn Burning Essay

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Every person reaches a point in their lives when they must define themselves in relation to their parents. We all come through this experience differently, depending on our parents and the situation that we are in. For some people the experience comes very early in their lives, and can be a significant life changing experience. In William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” Colonel Sartoris Snopes must decide either to stand with his father and compromise his integrity, or embrace honesty and morality and condemn his family. This is a difficult decision to make, especially for a ten year old boy that has nothing outside of what his father provides. Sarty’s decision to ultimately betray his father is dependent on his observation of Abner’s character…show more content…
As a boy, however, he doesn’t know how to explain the conflict he is feeling and can only take in what is happening around him. Sarty has spent the beginning of the trial listening to the proceedings and waiting for Abner to defend himself. When Sarty is called as a witness, he knows from his father’s posture that he, Sarty, will have to lie to defend the family. The fact that Sarty knows this without even seeing Abner’s face shows just how much time Sarty has spent observing his father’s body language and actions. This is reasonable, and even expected behavior from a child who lives with a parent who is as prone to anger and retaliation as Abner. We see how desperate Sarty is about his father’s willingness for revenge when they are moving to the De Spain’s estate and he thinks to himself, “Forever […]. Maybe he’s done satisfied now, now that he has…” (86). But Sarty is unable to admit the truth even to himself, probably because his loyalty to, and dependence on Abner. Even so early in the story Sarty feels that his father is doing wrong, but through all his observation cannot condemn the man. Sarty admires the qualities of independence, courage and conviction in his father but doesn’t recognize that these qualities, along with the righteous indignation that Abner constantly keeps at the ready, are exactly what cause them to be

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