Conflict in Barn Burning
Barn Burning is a short story that revolves around the life of a young boy, Sarty Snopes.In this story, the writer, Faulkner brings out a strange description of Snopes. He is allowed to walk scot free from the court although he has been found guilty of burning barns (Faulkner 1). This is not the first time and it is not going to be the last time he burns a barn as seen later in the story. The story rotates around this basis.
The main theme in this story is conflict. This is brought out in the manner in which Sarty has to choose who among his community and his family he should be identified with. Sarty’s father, Abner Snopes, constantly reminds him that relationships among a family are essential and that he is soon growing to be a man. This, the father meant that the boy had to stick to his own relatives or else they will not stick to him (Faulkner 3). He is torn between his father’s side because they are blood relatives and being loyal to justice. The major theme therefore revolves around the boy looking for his identity. Throughout the story, the author presents several identity crises as Sarty struggles to find his identity. Several conflicts are presented to the readers through Sarty’s struggle to remain loyal to his father.
The main conflict experienced by Sarty in his attempt to remain loyal to his father is experienced in the description of Major De Spain’s house. As much as Sarty remains loyal to his father, his wish is that his father can change. This is evident during the incident when Snopes takes the young boy for a walk. His wish for his father’s change is seen in the manner in which he figures his father changing since he has come to a rich man’s mansion. The boy hopes that the mansion’s splendor displays shall change his father. At this point, the boy experiences some peace within himself. Unfortunately for Sarty, this is a simple disillusionment since it actually never happened. His father represents a rigidity that his son cannot fathom. This is told by the hoarse droppings incidence. This is because Snopes steps on it deliberately to dirty Major de Spain’s doorstep (Faulkner 23). This rigidity motivates Sarty to opt for a different side of identity. He feels convinced that his father can change but he is avoiding it. As his son wishes a change on him, he is seeking trouble with others. Sarty feels that his father’s fight during the Civil War had made him bitter such that he threw it blindly to others especially those who threatened or those who opposed him.
The conflict resulting from Major de Spain’s house is further evident when Snopes is asked to pay some money for destroying de Spain’s rug. He, however, teams up with his son and says that he shall not pay the money (Faulkner 30). However, it is arguable that Sarty does this as a mission to ensure that his father does not burn de Spain’s barn. It, however, gets to a time when the father has a serious clash with both of the son and de Spain for attempting to keep him from burning de Spain’s barn.
Sarty is caught unawares by his father’s intention to burn down de Spain’s barn. He attempts to delay this plan by suggesting that someone should be send to de Spain to warn him that his father is going to burn down his barn. At this point, Sarty is at the highest pick of his conflict because as much as he wants to remain loyal to his father; he is also against his habits of burning down barns. Despite his mother’s attempt to prevent him from going, he struggles and defeats her. His aunt, however, is in his support (Faulkner 31). He runs to Mr. de Spain and alerts him. Spain runs towards the firm and shoots the direction. At the end of the story, we are not informed of the state of Snope, but seemingly, he has been killed.
Sarty sits at the top of the hill thinking about all that had happened (Faulkner 46). He is sad, most probably because his father is dead. He, therefore, shall not be bound to the loyalty of any blood relatives but shall choose a new path in life. He had tried to be loyal to his father in the hope that he shall change. The story’s conflict revolves around his attempts to remain loyal to his father. The climax of all the conflicts was with the house of Major de Spain’s house. Snope, who also fall a victim of his crisis, had kept his son’s in a constant despair and fear.
Faulkner William. Barn Burning. New York: Perfection Learning. 2007. 1-47. Print.