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Sarty's Transformation in William Faulkner's Barn Burning Essay

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Sarty's Transformation in William Faulkner's Barn Burning


   In William Faulkner's story, "Barn Burning", we find a young man who struggles with the relationship he has with his father and his own conscience.  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 that faces the questions of faithfulness to his father or faithfulness to himself and the society he lives in.  His struggle dealing with the reactions that are caused by his father's action result in him thinking more for himself as the story progresses.

    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 "wolf-like independence" causes his family to depend on almost no one (Faulkner 155).  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" it shows how he sees his father as strict, but not overly demanding (Faulkner 159).  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" and should be known for it, not burning barns (Faulkner 154)...


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...r from a person of innocence into a person with a conscience in Sarty. Faulkner gradually develops Sarty into a man of his own deeds throughout the story.  Sarty has to finally realize that blood is not always thicker than water.  Faulkner's story symbolizes the way in which society works today.  If one individual is doing wrong, you must overlook the relationship you have with him and look at the wrong deeds he is doing.  If you happen to face your fears and set strait the wrong, in the end, the good will always prevail.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. "Barn Burning". Literature, Compact Edition. Edgar V. Roberts, Henry E. Jacobs. New Jersy: Prentice-Hall, 1990. 154-167.

Ford, Marilyn Claire. "Narrative Legerdenain: Evoking Sarty's Future in 'Barn Burning.'" Mississippi Quarterly, Summer 98, Issue 3: 51.

Academic Search Elite. GALILEO. 25 Sept. 2000.


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