Faulkner's "Barn Burning" Charactors

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate August 2001

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Faulkner's "Barn Burning" involves the Snopes, a sharecropper family that has moved 12 times in the memory of the primary participant, Sarty. Sarty is the youngest of four children to Abner and Lennie Snopes. The older brother and twin sisters are not named. Also with the family is Lennie's sister, Lizzie. Of this family, Abner and Sarty are the most active, around whom the theme focuses. Also, the land owner, Major de-Spain, is the latest target and recipient of Abner's retaliation. Sarty's type of character is rounded and dynamic while his father and Major de-Spain are flat and static.

Sarty struggled with his morality as it was in direct conflict with his desired loyalty to his father until, eventually, his morality won. He is round and dynamic. As he was called as a witness, Sarty felt obligated to recognize his fathers "enemies" and to lie about the barn burning (paragraph 1).

Along the trail, Abner slapped and threatened Sarty, that he must "stick to own blood"(paragraph 28), meaning they were all family and they had to stick together. Sarty knew his father's acts were unacceptable but also wanted to be loyal to his father. Later, when Major de-Spain's demand for repayment for the ruined rug, Sarty strives to be a true-to-form Snopes as he proclaims de-Spain will not get even one bushel of corn (paragraphs 64, 79). All through Sarty's character development, he changes ever so slightly until his morality wins over. His attempt to warn de-Spain is in vain. Without really knowing the outcome, he turns his back on a life style he could not live, thus changing his character type to round and dynamic.

As Sarty is moral in nature, his father is not. His father never changes and is flat and static. Not only...