Like Kerosene in His Veins

Throughout the short story “Barn Burning”, the protagonist, Sarty, is faced with what seems to be an impossible conflict; how deep does blood really run? Saddled with an abusive father, he is constantly put into a position where he questions if staying true to his roots is the right decision. Rather early on in the story, after Abner strikes Sarty, he states, “You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have no blood to stick to”. This exchange emphasizes the importance Abner hold regarding relation by blood. It also encompasses their father/son relationship quite accurately.

Due to the fact that this moral has been instilled in him for so long, Sarty feels a sense of responsibility towards his father. Even when mistreated, he chose to be compliant no matter how intensely his subconscious attempted to persuade him otherwise. A good example of this can be found on page 117 of the packet-155 of the story, where it states, “I could keep on, he thought. I could run on and on and never look back, never need to see his face again. Only I can’t. I can’t,“. The powerlessness he faces is common place even in modern society. For a story written so long ago, it amazes me that many of the themes still occur within our generations. What does this say about how we have progressed, or regressed, as a society?

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