William Faulkner's story "Barn Burning" occurs in the fictive Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. It is a story set in the 1930's, a decade of the Great Depression when social and economic problems existed. "Barn Burning" is a story about social inequality, in particular with the rich land owning family de Spain in contrast to the poor tenant farming ways of the Sartoris family.
Abner is the father in the family. He is a cold deviant man. His family is constantly moving around because of the violent crimes he commits. This creates external conflict between Abner and de Spain. Out of this argument arises Sarty's argument, that deals with sticking to both his morals and loyal ties to his family.
Abner has been tried once before for the burning of Mr. Harris' barn. This might have been Abner raging against economic inequality. He is a poor white tenant farmer with a large family (his wife, her sister and his three children). Sarty is a small young and untidy little boy who is very scared and intimidated by his father. Although, he knows right and wrong, he tries to show loyalty to his father,. This creates an internal conflict with Sarty. His name symbolizes William Faulkner's fictional character, Colonel John Sartoris who is a civil war hero. His morals are tried when he almost has to testify in the first court scene. Abner know how Sarty is and tries to convince him that he needs to back him up always. "You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain't going to have any blood to stick to you." Sarty's inner conflict deepens the day his brother and his father create an emotional bond with him by allowing him to participate in hanging out in the town with them, symbolizing his entry into manhood.
The family is constantly moving from house to house because of Abner's violent ways. The visit to Mrs. de Spain's house makes Abner realize the class differences that exist. The black servant in fancy clothes exerts power over him, making Abner feel like a lesser man.
Sarty responds to the elegant home with a "with a surge of peace and joy." It was like a safe haven from the terror in his life. In contrast, Abner views the house as a reminder of his low economic status. He probably feels the injustice and becomes enraged. His anger and perhaps jealousy drives him to destroy the...