Barn Burning Essay

Submitted By Dkells88
Words: 2251
Pages: 10

Rebellion: A Self-Detrimental Practice As we grow into adulthood, we have to choose the hand that will shape us; for the choice is ours, but in our youth we are merely a ball of clay in need of a sculptor. Uniquely, as humans we get the opportunity to choose this sculptor, but it is no easy decision. There are many possibilities. Family, friends, society, or maybe even a distant role-model that we do not know on a personal level; the fact still remains we have to choose an influence before we can adopt a moral fiber of our own. This is a point made evident in both William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” and Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls.” Both stories tell tales of young people who must make the choice of what models they will reflect. As they struggle with this choice and clash with their own desires for individualism; they rebel against their society, but ultimately they succumb to the pressure. In the end, the prominent example has already been set by society and all that is left to do is follow it. Both Faulkner and Munro argue that we must assimilate into society, or be crushed by it; because rebellion is always met with insurmountable opposition. In Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” young Sartoris is torn between the bonds of blood and an obligation to society. While he respects his father, Abner, and wants to believe that there is good in him society tells Sarty that this is not so. He tries so hard to rationalize his father’s actions and to defend them; despite that fact that everything he has learned from society says otherwise. Sartoris holds on to the sentiment that his father was a honorable man who fought for his beliefs in the civil war; however this is not true, his father was nothing more than a crook who pilfered horses for his own financial gain. Abner is the type of man who would purposely treat others like garbage, even his own family, and not think twice about it. He would habitually destroy the property of others, knowing that the outcome would only hurt his own family. Even still, through all this, Sarty respected certain qualities of his father. The confidence, the fortitude, and the willingness to act according to his beliefs (immoral as they were); these were all desirable qualities held by his father. Furthermore, a son must obey his father’s wishes; as his older brother has because to break this rule, would be tantamount to breaking the bonds of blood. Ironically, to break this bond and side with the norms of society; Sarty would have to reflect the few desirable qualities that his father did possess. Of course, these few positive qualities possessed by his father were also woven into the moral fabric of society; so it could be argued that even in his rebellion, Abner was not free from influence of society. Ultimately, since Abner refused to fully assimilate into society; it constantly held him under the under the weight of oppression. Even a lowly black man held better position than Abner. As long as Abner choose to rebel he could rise no higher than an impoverished sharecropper; condemned to a life of indentured servitude. Once Sarty came to this realization, he chose society over his father by telling Major De Spain of his father’s intentions to burn down the barn — a decision that would prove fatal to his father — but in Sarty’s grief there was a revelation; finally, he was accepted as a contributing member of society and thus he was free from its oppression. It is interesting to see how Sarty’s quest for approval in his father’s eyes slowly wanes to a sort of disdain, not of his father as a person, but towards his actions. Not that he ever really approved of what his father did, but he was willing to try to convince himself that supporting his father’s wrongs was more important than conforming to the societal norms instilled within him. In the beginning of the story Sarty was willing to lie and he even declared a Justice as an enemy purely because he knew his father wanted him to do so. Of course…