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The Relationship Between Father And Son In William Faulkner's Short Story "Barn Burning"

1359 words - 5 pages

Normally in life, you look up to your father to be the care taker and to encourage you to make your own decisions on what is right and what is wrong. You figure your father should have your best interest at heart and to show compassion for you. In William Faulkner's short story "Barn Burning," Abner is the opposite of the normal father figure you would see. Rather than encouraging his son, Sarty, to make his own decisions on what is right and what is wrong, Abner wants Sarty to lie for him to protect his freedom, so Abner won’t get caught for burning barns. Abner forces fear into Sarty to make sure he will lie for him rather than tell the truth. The relationship between Abner and Sarty is struggling due to Abners abusiveness and criminal ways.

Abner tries to make a man out of Sarty by inflicting pain on him. “His father struck him with the flat of his hand on the side of his head, hard but without heat, exactly as he had struck the two mules at the store, exactly as he would strike either of them with any stick in order to kill a horse fly, his voice still without anger.” (p420) This shows how hard his father hit him in the head and how hard Abner wants to put fear in Sarty to make sure he won’t step out of line. To make sure that when a judge or anyone asks about his father burning the barns, Sarty will not tell if Abner actually burned down the barns. Also, it shows how Abner would stoop so low to hit his own son for his own needs and how badly he didn’t want to get caught.

Abner doesn’t want to get caught so he forces Sarty to lie for him and to make sure he won’t go against the family. “You’re getting to be a man. You got to learn. You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to ...

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