Loyalty to Family in the Short Story "Barn Burning"

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The short story "Barn Burning" by William Faulkner is a stark look at the struggle of a boy to try to do what is right, or do what is best for his family during the post Civil War era. The main character, Sartoris Snopes is a poor son of a migrant tenant farmer who, in the opening scene is being questioned about the burning of a farmers barn by his father, Abner Snopes. The boy is torn between choosing what is right, telling the truth, or lying to protect his father. The boy is not forced to tell to judge about his father burning the barn, but is certain he would have told if asked. The father is a soldier from the Civil War and has knack for burning down the barns of those who cross his path. Faulkner uses the symbol of blood to illustrate the theme of loyalty to the family.

Faulkner illustrates the theme of blood when he is to testify, and is pressured by his father to lie. In the makeshift courtroom, when the boy is put on the stand he is pressured because he knows that his father will do something rash if his son tells the truth. He also is told that some things are more important than the truth, that family is the most important thing. When Abner states, "You would have told them." This shows how the boy feels toward his blood father, and how even though it would have been a lie he should have testified in his fathers favor. This scene also reveals how the father feels about family. The father believes that family should always bail out family. When the boy is thinking about the "old grief of blood" he means that his father has done this before and that he has lied for his father before. This theme is carried further when the boy thinks, "our enemy, Ourn! Mine and hisn both! He's my father". The boy thinking this would show that not only has he done this before but the boy is used to dealing with it.

Faulkner illustrates the theme of blood when the father explains that the family must stick together. In the scenes following the...
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