Sarty's mother is submissive to Sarty's father. She suffers emotionally, because Abner is a cruel man who hurts his family and others because of his pride and his savage temper. Sarty's mother's inclination is to offer her son sympathy and concern, but she is limited by both Abner and the rejection that Sarty gives her because he has been conditioned by his father.
The twin sisters are described as "bovine," or cow-like; that is to say, large, unenergetic, and not particularly bright. They are not drawn as sympathetic characters. Sarty's father treats them more or less like livestock, ordering them to ruin the rug of Major DeSpain as the girls move slowly and churlishly.
None of the female characters exhibit growth or development. Their role is mostly to react to the remorseless and flatly cruel actions and behavior of Abner. Sarty's mother does her best to try to protect her son, but she is effectively prevented by the power that Abner wields over her and the uselessness of her two daughters. Of all the female characters, she is given the most development, but even so, she is a stock character, the long-suffering wife and mother. "Barn Burning" is a rite-of-passage story about a boy, a story of racial conflict in the South, and an exploration of the rage of a man who believes that life has somehow short-changed him. These prominent themes do not leave much room for the development of female characters.