In “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner, the reader follows a father-son relationship that is undergoing major struggles. As the story commences the reader begins to learn about the son, Colonel Sartoris Snopes, who is more commonly known as Sarty. Sarty is a young adult learning to cope with the horrible deeds of his father, Abner Snopes. The reader perceives Sarty as a confused young man who constantly asks himself of his fidelity towards his father and himself. As he tries to manage the constant uproar that comes along with his father’s actions, Sarty begins to worry about himself rather than his father. Faulkner practices many techniques to show Sarty’s maturity grow. Readers see Sarty’s development within three occasions throughout the short story: how Sarty appreciates Abner, linguistics Sarty uses when defining Abner, and when and how he listens to Abner in the book.
The reader first sees how Sarty changes from a young child to a grown adult during the occasions when he praises his father. Sarty’s aspiration is to repair their lives to a healthier and more content state. At the start of the short story, Sarty expresses his concern for his father. While describing his father, Sarty says, “There was something about his wolflike independence and even courage, when the advantage was at least neutral which impressed strangers […]” (Faulkner, 156). In better words, persons who know of Abner appreciate his fearlessness in any and every circumstance. Though, this is only acceptable when those said persons are not in a direct violation of Abner. It is only when Abner is in charge of decision making that he is eager to go wherever and do whatever. This is especially difficult on Sarty and the rest of his family. Due to his father’s actions, their family has a hard time depending on others. As the short story continues, Sarty acknowledges that this is because of his father’s desire to thrive on survival (McDonald, 46). Sarty refers to his father behaving harshly when Abner instructs his daughter, Sarty’s sister, to wash a rug “[...] father stood over them in turn, implacable and grim, driving them though never raising his voice again” (Faulkner, 157). This reveals to the reader that though Abner may be stringent at times, he is hardly excessive.
Sarty begins to disagree with Abner when he exerts his power to the point where it crosses a line within his family. As the story comes to a close, Sarty’s praises toward his father come to be more bare and thoughtless. Following the barn fire, Sarty declares his father to be a valiant man. By the end of it all, Sarty encouraged everybody to celebrate his father as a fearless man, “He was! He was in the war […]” (Faulkner, 166) rather than being referred to as the man who burned barns. Ultimately, Sarty loved his father; however he would in no way accept his father’s exploits (Loges, 43).
An added occasion when the reader sees a change in Sarty’s maturity is shown through the linguistics used when he is discussing his Abner. During the first half of the short story, Sarty was a child observing the life surrounding him. Any rival of his father’s was his enemy as well “our enemy he thought in that despair; ourn! mine and hisn both […]” (Faulkner, 156). He was incredibly devoted to his father, unknowing that his views would change as he aged. Mid-story, the reader begins to notice Sarty’s tone alter. Sarty displays a difference in tone when he questions Abner “Don't you want to ride now?’(Faulkner, 161) as they depart from Major de Spain’s residence. He shows no fear in questioning his father of certain issues regardless of the answer he may receive (MacComb, 347). Towards the end of the short story, Sarty develops into a more sovereign and resilient character by the use of linguistics (Ford, 527). When Sarty sprints from Major de Spain’s residence with a child-like cry, he calls for his father “Pap! Pap!” (Faulkner, 165).