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Barn Burning Essay

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In “Barn Burning,” the author, William Faulkner, composes a wonderful story about a poor boy who lives in anxiety, despair, and fear. He introduces us to Colonel Satoris Snopes, or Sarty, a boy who is mature beyond his years. Due to the harsh circumstances of life, Sarty must choose between justice and his family. At a tender age of ten, Sarty starts to believe his integrity will help him make the right choices. His loyalty to family doesn’t allow for him to understand why he warns the De Spain family at such a young age. Faulkner describes how the Snopes family is emotionally conflicted due to Abner’s insecurities, how consequences of a father’s actions can change their lives, and how those choices make Sarty begin his coming of age into adulthood.
The conflictions of the Snopes family in this story are of anger, fear, and despair. Abner Snopes, the father, is an angry man. He believes that he is always right, he is abusive, and is always being short-changed by life. Even though his wife is impartial to his actions, she looks at him with an “anxious face at his shoulder,” which describes how weary she is when in the presence of her husband (Faulkner 1961). Sarty’s whole family lives under a blanket of fear and anxiety due to his father’s insecurities, and resentment for people who belittle him. Sarty’s older brother is easily impressed, and follows their father’s manipulative ways of dysfunction: the brother said “Better tie him to the bedpost” (Faulkner 1965). Abner uses manipulations and violence to keep them in a sense of hopelessness and fear, never feeling safe. Sarty is too immature to put his young thoughts into words, thinking “They are safe from him. People whose lives are a part of this peace and dignity are beyond...


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...pain’s rifle. He cries out for his dead father as a young child would, but makes an adult decision to run away from everything and his family.
Sarty ran into the woods for safety. He never knew how long he kept running away from the despair and fear of the choices that he and his father made that day. Little did Sarty recognize that running through that door at the de Spain mansion led to freedom for himself and his family: “Perhaps, it will take a Sarty Snopes to enter through another front door and, though promptly sent away, learn that he has the capacity and the willingness to make moral decisions that will lead him, not to death, but to life” (Samway 103). Sarty, knowing he would never feel the terror and despair of his father actions again, he chose to grieve, and made an adult decision to move forward to a new beginning in life with his integrity intact.



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