Barn Burning: Sarty's Transformation Into Adulthood

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Barn Burning: Sarty's Transformation Into Adulthood

In William Faulkner's story, "Barn Burning", we find a young man who

struggles with the relationship he has with his father. We see Sarty, the young

man, develop into an adult while dealing with the many crude actions and ways of

Abner, his father. We see Sarty as a puzzled youth who faces the questions of

faithfulness to his father or faithfulness to himself and the society he lives

in. His struggle dealing with the reactions which are caused by his father's

acts result in him thinking more for himself as the story progresses. Faulkner

uses many instances to display the developing of Sarty's conscience as the theme

of the story "Barn Burning." Three instances in which we can see the developing

of a conscience in the story are the ways that Sarty compliments and admires his

father, the language he uses when describing his father, and the way he obeys

his father throughout the story.

The first instance in which we can see a transition from childhood to

adulthood in Sarty's life is in the way he compliments his father. Sarty

admires his father very much and wishes that things could change for the better

throughout the story. At the beginning of the story he speaks of how his

fathers "...wolflike independence..."(145) causes his family to depend on almost

no one. He believes that they live on their own because of his fathers drive

for survival. When Sarty mentions the way his father commands his sisters to

clean a rug with force "...though never raising his voice..."(148), it shows how

he sees his father as strict, but not overly demanding. He seems to begin to

feel dissent towards his father for the way he exercises his authority in the

household. As we near the end of the story, Sarty's compliments become sparse

and have a different tone surrounding them. After running from the burning barn,

he spoke of his dad in an almost heroic sense. He wanted everyone to remember

his dad as a brave man, "He was in the war."(154) and should be known for it,

not burning barns. He seems to care about, but not condone his father and his


Another instance where we see a transition is in the language he uses

when describing his father. At the beginning of the story he spoke as a child

watching and looking at the things around him. He said that an enemy of his

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