Barn Burning by William Faulkner

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Barn Burning by William Faulkner

By | September 2013
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Barn Burning by William Faulkner
For years, literary works have discussed the difference of nature vs. nurture, William Faulkner’s Barn Burning being one of them. Nurture in the debate refers to the way a person is brought up through his or her life. The argument is that the nurturing of the child in its early years is what ultimately defines how that person will act. On the other hand, another way of thinking is that nature defines who a person is. That it is not how a person is raised or what they grew up around, but who that person is inside. The fundamental difference is that said person is born the way they are going to grow up to be and is not shaped by his or her parents and how they act. In Faulkner’s Barn Burning, Sartoris Snopes is nurtured by his ill-willed father but ultimately takes the high road and chooses to be his own person rather than follow the road of his father.

Sartoris’ life had previously been defined by instability and always covering for his father, until they came along the de Spain house. From the beginning of the story, Sartoris wanted to tell the truth at the court room but got slapped by his father for even the thought. “You’re getting to be a man. You got to learn. You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to stick to you. Do you think either of them, any man there this morning would?” Mr. Snopes was just trying to make sure that his son would always protect his twisted ways in any future court room. He did not care about teaching his son a life lesson about loyalty or that blood was thicker than water, which was not what the talk that night in the woods was about. It was just simply Mr. Snopes warped way of assuring he would not get in trouble for future acts of harm. And sure enough, there were more acts.

Even though Mr. Snopes slapped Sartoris and told him to stay true to his family, the de Spain house sparked a change in Sartoris and marked the end of following his father’s...
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