Theme in literature is the meaning of a story. It is an aspect of human experience that the story conveys. “Barn Burning “has a theme of loyalty and betrayal and right and wrong. The story is centered on The Snopes family who lived in the time of the civil war in the 19th century. They are tenant farmers who raise and harvest crops in exchange for a place to live and a share of the crops.
The main character, Colonel Santoris Snopes (“Sarty”) struggles with the inner conflict in which he questions his ability to be loyal to his family. Abner Snopes, the father of Sarty is an extremely bitter, insidious man. He is a serial arsonist who sets fires to exact his revenge on those who he think wronged him. Throughout the story, Sarty is in a state of emotional confusion, desperate to do what is right. Sarty must choose between going along with or against the actions of his father.
The story begins with Abner on trial for burning down his employer’s barn. Sarty is called to testify but is hesitant. Abner can sense that his son is contemplating the truth. He is torn between the truth and his father. Although the judge does not find him guilty, he does order him out of town. Abner strikes Sarty and tells him not betray his family or he will have no family. Abner's overly paranoid thinking and quiet threats are what causes Sarty’s inner battle between what's morally right and family loyalty.
The family moves on to another farm where Abner immediately shows disdain for his new employer. He begins to act out in a defiant manner. Major De Spain, the current employer, assesses Abner a portion of his crops as payment for a carpet he purposely destroyed. Abner, instead of honoring his assessment, decides to take De Spain to court. The judge finds Abner to, in fact, be responsible for the destroyed property. He is told he will only have to give a portion of the crops De Spain has assessed him....
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