An Analysis on “Barn Burning”

Image result for barn clip art

After reading this particular short story, I felt inclined to read it again for a deeper understanding as to what was really going on in the story. What encapsulated me in the story was not necessarily the events that occurred in the text, but more so the character relationships that the father (Abner Snopes) had with others, particularly Abner’s relationship with Sarty.

It is evident in the text that Sarty is a small innocent boy, far different from his father. I take it that Sarty took most of his characteristics from his mother, who tries to protect her children from the wrath of their father on numerous occasions. On the first couple pages of the text we see that Sarty is being forced to testify against his father, however the court ends up dismissing the young boy because they realize how uncomfortable Sarty is throughout the situation. We never truly find out if Sarty would have ratted his father out for burning the barn down. I think it is an interesting question to ponder upon. Would he have exposed his father’s wrongdoing, or would he have remained silent if the court forced him to speak?

While reading the last couple paragraphs of the text, the song “Burn” from the musical Hamilton was playing in my mind. The barn never really got burned down thanks to Sarty telling DeSpain of his fathers plans. Sarty’s father got killed in the process of DeSpain saving his farm however, which is where the song “Burn” comes into play (https://genius.com/Original-broadway-cast-of-hamilton-burn-lyrics ). The lyrics in the song go “You have torn it all apart; I’m watching it burn”, which I think play perfectly into Sarty and Abner’s relationship at the end of the story.

Image result for fire clip art

Abner’s evil intentions were the primary reason that led Sarty’s honest nature to expose his fathers plans of burning the barn down. In the last paragraphs of the text Sarty is saddened by his fathers death, he is watching his fathers life “burn” away. Sarty runs away and doesn’t look back. Does a better future await Sarty?

3 thoughts on “An Analysis on “Barn Burning”

  1. DAVID (FINN) GREENSTONE

    I believe that a better future, or at least a future of some kind, does await Sarty, as Faulkner’s narration illustrates (when he references Sarty’s rethinking of events twenty years later). I do think it’s a very interesting and open-ended question whether Sarty would have ratted his father out. I don’t think he would have at that point in time, but it’s worth considering.

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  2. YUNHAO XU

    I totally agree with you. Sarty was a moral and honest child. He knew what was “Justise” , and also what his father did repeatedly was wrong. However, he couldn’t point out his father’s fault and even asked to join him passively under the justification which called “You are getting to be a man.” That was the vital reason caused Sarty deciding to revolt. He tried to be a good child and respect his father, but then, he got beaten. It was ridiculous indeed and which made the story powerful.

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  3. ALEXANDRA WEISMAN

    I really like your post because I totally agree with you on the relationship between Sarty and his father. It is per usual that kids get nervous to go in front of the court because of the repercussions that could come with going against your aggressive guardian. I also agree that him being hesitant was coming out of fear. I also wondered what would have happened if he was not dismissed. I think it makes the ending of the story so interesting because there could have been consequences of him telling his fathers plans, but he did it anyways to save the barn.

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