March 2, 2011
William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning”
The short story “Barn Burning” was written by an American author William Faulkner. According to Spark notes (SparkNotes LLC. ) This story first appeared in the June 1939 issue of Harper’s Magazine. William Faulkner received the O. Henry award for the year’s best work of short fiction.
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, as we see with most young boys they think their fathers can do no wrong, they place them on a pedestal and look up to them. As the father 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 him 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 occurring again and again.
Eventually, Sarty warns the property owner that his father is burning his barn, which leads to his father being shot. He then leaves his family. This is an entrance into another style of life, another view of life, and a new freedom that would have been nonexistent if he had...