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Barn Burning

By | November 2007
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Colonel Sartoris Snopes, a ten-years-old boy in "Barn Burning" by William Faulkner is naïve in his youthful judgments of his father, evident in his actions and thoughts and speech. When Sarty's father, Abner, is acquitted of burning his landowner's barn because of insufficient evidence, Sarty naively believes that his father is innocent and fights a boy who calls his father a barnburner so furiously that he "[feels] no blow, … no shock when his head strikes the earth."(p?) Sarty fails to realize that Abner is only freed due to the court's objectivity. Similarly, Sarty shows his naive belief in his father when he proclaims, "you did the best you could! If he wanted hit done differently why didn't he wait and tell you how?" after his father ruins his landowner's carpet. Once again, Sarty fails to recognize that his father is at fault for purposely using harsh lye to wash the stained carpet. Loyally protective of his father, Sarty tries to rationalize that the ruin of the carpet was Major de Spain's fault. At only ten-years old, Sarty is overly optimistic that his uncompromising, "stiff" father could change. When Sarty has an experience of transcending his situation in a sense of peace and security as he looks at the beauty of the flowering trees and the mansion itself, he hopes that "‘maybe [his father] will feel it too. Maybe it will even change [his father] from what he couldn't help but be.'" Even as Sarty is being drawn away from his father's influence, he is childlike in his hope that his father can change, unaware of the rigid, one-dimensional nature of Abner. While separating himself from his violent, egotistical father, Sarty still tries to rationalize his father's actions. Through his actions and thoughts/feelings, Sarty shows his ten-year-old naïve belief that his father could reform.

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