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Essay on Barn Burning: Family vs. Morality

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Barn Burning: Family vs. Morality 


The theme of Faulkner's "Barn Burning" is Sarty Snopes's desire to break away from the oppressive conditions of his family life. Sarty gains this freedom when he decides to warn the de Spains because his father's violation of his own sort of morality liberates him from what he calls the "pull of blood," or duty to his family.

 

The narrator describes Sarty's father, Abner Snopes, as such: "There was something about his wolf-like independence and even courage . . . which impressed strangers, as if they got . . . a feeling that his ferocious conviction in the rightness of his own actions would be of advantage to all whose interest lies with his" (218-19). Sarty believed in this conviction of his father's. He was prepared to defend his father at the first trial: "He aims for me to lie, he thought, and I will have to do hit," and he fights the boy twice his size who calls out, "Barn burner!" (217-18). Still, he hopes that the fires will end, thinking, "Maybe he's done satisfied now," but when Abner begins to set ablaze his next barn, Sar...


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