Barn Burning: The Right Way vs. The Wrong Father

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Sophie Shin
6385592
Professor St-Jacques
ENG 1120 CC
February 29th 2012
Barn Burning: The Right Way vs. The Wrong Father
William Faulkner’s commitment to depicting “the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself” (245) find perfect expression in “Barn Burning,” in which Sarty is torn between his growing realization of his father’s depravity and his innate conviction that there is another, better way of being in the world. The way in which Faulkner has Sarty’s language used towards his father transitions throughout the story and depicts when Sarty realizes that there is a better way to be in this world. When looking at the beginning to the story, Sarty spoke childish as he would just simply watch what surrounded him. He referred to any enemy of his father’s as “our enemy” (225). He speaks with such loyalty, without realizing that he should not have to be afraid of straying away from this loyalty. As the story progresses, in a subtle form, Sarty seems to break loose from the fact that he must do as he is told and is courageous enough to ask his father if he “want[s] to ride now” (232) as they are leaving the de Spain’s. This shows Sarty’s realization that he does not have to be afraid of the consequences when asking his father certain things. As the story comes to an end, Sarty runs from the de Spain’s and yells out to his father “Pap! Pap!” (237) and then when he is stumbling as he tries to run after him, he remembers the event and proceeds to call him “Father! Father!” (237). He no longer has to call his father a childish name such as Pap, he chooses to call him Father in a time of disarray. These choices of words show the growth in his character from child to adult and aids in his realization of his father’s depravity. Sarty has finally realized that there is a better way of living in this world and shows it through the use of words throughout the story.

Sarty shows a developing conscience that his father is not leading a better way of life...
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