The main theme that I observed in “Barn Burning” that I though would be relevant for response was the otherness of Sarty. For all his young life Sarty has had the concept of blood loyalty beaten into him by his father. Abner tell young Sarty, “You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to stick to you.” This meaning that in Abner’s eyes if you don’t back up your family then who is going to back you up when the times get rough? After Abner’s last barn burning escapade Sarty must choose between following what his father has always told him and be loyal to his family or be loyal to what he knows in his heart and conscience to be right. Talk about a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation. If Sarty were to tell the truth he would certainly become alienated from his family and have nowhere to go, but if he did not he would have the blood of innocent people on his hands.
What I found interesting was the contradictive actions Sarty has in the beginning of the story. During the trial Sarty is just about to testify that it was his father who burnt the barn down when he is called down from the stand. It seemed he had made his decision to ally himself with his conscience. However, outside the courthouse Sarty gets into a scuffle with some boys who were calling his father a barn burner. Sarty continues having internal struggles like this throughout the story, wishing and hoping his father will not burn down any barns and yet at the same time coming to his father’s aid during events like the incident with the rug. On the topic of the rug ruining I thought the rug represented society, law, and establishment and that Abner dragging horse waste all over it was a parallel to his dragging horse waste over society by burning barns. In the same vein Sarty standing with his father on the issue because he thinks twenty bushels or corn is excessive is again akin to his defense of his father’s barn burning.
At the end of the story...
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