Transformation Into Adulthood in William Faulkner's story, "Barn Burning"

Essay by John MichaelUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, October 1995

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In William Faulkner's story, "Barn Burning", we find a young man who struggles

with the relationship he has with his father. We see Sarty, the young man, develop into an

adult while dealing with the many crude actions and ways of Abner, his father. We see

Sarty as a puzzled youth who faces the questions of faithfulness to his father or

faithfulness to himself and the society he lives in. His struggle dealing with the reactions

which are caused by his father's acts result in him thinking more for himself as the story

progresses. Faulkner uses many instances to display the developing of Sarty's conscience

as the theme of the story "Barn Burning." Three instances in which we can see the

developing of a conscience in the story are the ways that Sarty compliments and admires

his father, the language he uses when describing his father, and the way he obeys his father

throughout the story.

The first instance in which we can see a transition from childhood to adulthood in

Sarty's life is in the way he compliments his father. Sarty admires his father very much

and wishes that things could change for the better throughout the story. At the beginning

of the story he speaks of how his fathers "...wolflike independence..."(145) causes his

family to depend on almost no one. He believes that they live on their own because of his

fathers drive for survival. When Sarty mentions the way his father commands his sisters to

clean a rug with force "...though never raising his voice..."(148), it shows how he sees his

father as strict, but not overly demanding. He seems to begin to feel dissent towards his

father for the way he exercises his authority in the household. As we near the...