Character Study on Sarty in William Faulkner's "Barn Burning".

Essay by ENGLITCollege, Undergraduate October 2005

download word file, 3 pages 3.5

Downloaded 89 times

In William Faulkner's 1939 short story "Barn Burning", Sarty is a young boy who is at the mercy of his overbearing father Abner. Sarty is oppressed, naive and has a strong sense of right and wrong. Abner is a poor man who gets his revenge on anyone who he believes has cheated him is some way. His revenge is barn burning. Sarty knows that this is wrong and struggles with the realities of life. If he tells on Abner who will care for the family? If he keeps quiet about Abner's actions can he live with himself? Sarty is forced to make a decision that will forever change his life, obey his father and continue to live in fear and shame, or break away from everything and everyone he knows to do what he know is right. Sarty chooses to do what is right knowing that he can never go back to his family.

He tells Major de Spain that his barn is being burned and runs away. As Sarty is escaping he hears two gunshots and will never know if his father and brother died because of him.

The story starts out in a courtroom, Abner is being charged with barn burning and Sarty is watching the proceedings. When the Justice calls Sarty up to be questioned his mind goes frantic with fear. He knows he will have to lie to protect his father or face Abner's wrath later. Sarty is oppressed and afraid to speak up against Abner, this is evident with this statement "He aims for me to lie, he thought again with that frantic grief and despair. And I will have to do hit." (251). Luckily the Justice takes pity on Sarty and does not question him. Later that evening...