William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” is the story of inner conflict and change within a young boy named Sartoris Snopes. He is faced with the decision of choosing to give in to his father Abner’s attempts to make him lie in court and keep him out of jail for barn burning or betray his flesh and blood and be truthful to his convictions. Sarty’s father pressures him after his initial court appearance for barn burning telling him, “You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to stick to you.” (Meyer 496) Sarty begins the story feeling a strong allegiance to his father, but by the end of the story the reader learns his views have drastically changed. .
The plot of “Barn Burning” revolves around the consequences of the choices Abner has made in the past. He has been a parasite in former communities causing his family grief and embarrassment. The protagonist in this story is Sarty Snopes. He draws sympathy from the reader for the situations his father puts him in and is the central character that the conflict revolves around. The climax of the story occurs at the end when Sarty has alerted Major de Spain of his father’s intentions to burn his barn. The culmination gains its suspenseful edge when Sarty is running down Major de Spain’s drive and he hears Major de Spain’s horse galloping behind him. The symbolic resolution to the conflict comes when Abner and his elder son are shot and killed while trying to burn Major de Spain’s barn. However the actual solution does not occur until sometime during the night following his father’s death, while Sarty is sitting upon the crest of a hill reflecting on his actions and future life. (Meyer 504) .
The setting occurs in the late 1800’s in small towns and on a wealthy war veteran’s plantation. Many southerners earned their money by share-cropping during this time. Abner Snopes being a share-cropper allows this story to be feasible.