Barn Burning is a short story by William Faulkner about a young boy named “Sarty” who is the son of sharecroppers in the Old South, and his feelings and emotions concerning his father. The story begins in a small store that, also, served as a courtroom for the Justice Of The Peace in the rural area where the story commences. Sarty’s father has been charged with the burning of a barn in connection with a hog that had obviously run loose on another owner’s property. At the trial in the beginning of the story, the case against his father is dismissed because of lack of evidence, but the Justice Of The Peace orders the family to leave the area. They leave the store, and travel in their wagon to the next place where the family sets up house for their next position as sharecroppers. .
Upon arrival, Sarty and his father travel up to the main house of the farmland where they have been hired. When they reach the home, which is described in detail as a big, beautiful type of antebellum home common in the South during and after the Civil War, his father pushes his way into the home past a servant. His father had stepped in horse manure on his way up to the home, and as the father pushes his way past the servant, he smears the horse manure into a pale French rug of great expense. Finding the owner not at home, he and his father leave and go back to their home further away from the main house. .
Later in the day, the owner of the main home comes to the home of Sarty and his family with the dirty rug, and orders the father to have the rug cleaned. The father then orders Sarty’s sisters to clean the rug, and they clean it but they ruin the rug, in turn. Several days later, Sarty goes with his father in their wagon to another small rural grocery store, and once again, Sarty’s father is in trouble with the law. The owner of the land on which they are sharecropping has sued the father for the damage to the rug.