Bad Burning And Family Loyalty Essay

1530 words - 7 pages

“Barn Burning” and Family Loyalty
William Faulkner’s narrative “Barn Burning” highlights one of the most complex humanistic behaviors that has endured the test of time and is still relevant today. All cultures throughout history have placed an emphasis on familial loyalty to some degree or fashion and for the majority of people the bonds shared with those to whom one is directly related to are perhaps the most sacred and binding relationships in a person’s lifetime. One’s immediate family plays a strong and direct role in shaping and molding individuals into who they are and what they will become in the future. Society and its expectations as a whole deals a strong hand into the development of a person and generally speaking, society and familial expectations serve as a beneficial mutualistic influence on a developing individual in the sense that similar values and ideals are encouraged by both of these forms of influence. It is when these two expectations clash and conflict with each other that a rift is created within the individual being pulled by these forms of influence. Sartoris Snopes serves as a microcosm of how dark influences can debilitate a person’s development and force unnecessary decisions and actions to be made for the sake of protecting one’s very own humanity. “Barn Burning” provides a sobering depiction of just how powerful the influence of familial bonds and cultural norms is on one’s everyday life and development as a human being and makes clear that which forces we choose to follow can either make or break us.
The battle between Sarty’s father Abner and the society in which the family lives in creates a strong enough discord to cause Sarty to choose between the two sides and examine his own moral character. Abner Scopes is a brute of a man who is cold and domineering towards the family of whom he presides over. He is the unrivaled head of the family who holds a tight leash on the remaining members of the family (Bertonneau). Each of these individuals is unwilling and unable to confront Abner’s belligerent behavior and despite brief instances where the text reveals the despair of their dire situation they are held in check by the dominance of the head of the family. This dynamic changed abruptly for Sarty due to the trial being held at a local store which forced him to take the stand as a witness. It is in this moment that Sarty is pitted between his sadistic father and society and he becomes fully aware of the dilemma that faces him (Bertonneau). “He aims for me to lie,” Sarty declares to himself in regards to his father’s expectations of him testifying and he ultimately concludes, “And I will have to do it (Faulkner 1705).” The judge spared Sarty from making a consequential moral choice but the fact that it was presented to him had a significant impact on his conscience. This scene reveals that Sarty at this stage in the story is devoted to his father but also depicts that Sarty was disturbed by the fact that he would...

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