How is the boy Sarty treated by his father in "Barn Burning"?"Barn Burning" by William Faulkner Support what you say with evidence from the story.  How does Mr. Snopes treat other members of his...

How is the boy Sarty treated by his father in "Barn Burning"?

"Barn Burning" by William Faulkner

Support what you say with evidence from the story.  How does Mr. Snopes treat other members of his family?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Snopes treats the boy Sarty cruelly but without passion.  When the two of them are leaving the courthouse towards the beginning of the story, Sarty leaps "in (a) red haze toward the face" of a boy who had taunted his father, but the father's only reaction is to "(jerk) him back", ordering him with a "harsh, cold voice" to "go get in the wagon".  When the boy's mother wants to clean the wounds he sustained in the fight, the father dispassionately orders her also to "get back in the wagon".  As the patriarch in the family, Mr. Snopes expects his every command to be obeyed unquestioningly, and he extracts this obedience with sheer physical brutality.

When the family camps that night, Mr. Snopes strikes Sarty "with the flat of his hand on the side of the head, hard but without heat, exactly as he had struck the two mules at the store".  To Sarty's surprise, Mr. Snopes tells him harshly, "You were fixing to tell them...you got to learn to stick to your own blood".  Mr. Snopes had hit Sarty many times before that night, but sadly, he had "never before ...paused afterward to explain why".  Mr. Snopes treats Sarty and all the members of his family the exact same way that he treats his animals, with dispassionate physical abuse.

Sarty says nothing in response to his father's brutality, submitting without protest to a force that is stronger than he is.  He knows that had he voiced the opinion that the judge had "wanted only truth, justice", he would have only been hit again.

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Barn Burning

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