Family vs. Morality

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Young Sarty Snopes, the main character in William Faulkner's "Barn Burning," exemplifies qualities that show he is both like and unlike his mother and father. Sarty's adolescent mind often recognizes that what his father is doing and mother is forced to witness is wrong, but another side of him realizes that family is important and that it would be both dangerous and difficult to turn his back on his own flesh and blood. He is a direct product of his parents and like them in many ways, but certain actions, thoughts, and ideas set him apart from his parents, making him somewhat of a rebel. Sarty loves, respects, and takes after his father and this is evident in the story. He is considerate of his father's wishes and he knows what boundaries not to cross. Because Sarty's father is infamous for burning his past employers' barns, showing respect for Ab and keeping his mouth shut is difficult for him. Yet, he manages to keep silent and tries to live up to what his entire family expects of him, which includes following, listening, and obeying them, with no questions asked. In one instance, Sarty is inside a courtroom watching a trial, his father the accused, dealing with the barn burning of a neighbor, Mr. Harris. Although Sarty knows his father burnt down the barn, he feels that anyone who goes against his family is wrong and he sits in the courtroom subconsciously repeating the words, "Enemy, Enemy", towards the Justice of the Peace, inside his perplexed head, full of many contrasting emotions and opinions (483). He knows that his father is not only wrong, but also a liar and yet he is still unable to turn his back on him. While leaving the courtroom, Sarty demonstrates his unconditional love for his father. He lashes out at another boy, both bigger and older than himself when the young man hisses, "Barn burner" as the family is walking by (484). Sarty knows this is the truth, but the uniqueness of his character forces him to fight the young man while, "feeling...
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