How does Sarty feel toward his father? What kind of emotions does he have toward him? Was his father the reason he left?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sarty is wary and distrustful of his father, Abner Snopes. Although the young boy doesn't flinch from his father's physical abuse, he is repulsed by his father's revolting code of ethics. Sarty eventually decides to go his own way after his father presumably dies at the hands of de Spain.

In Abner Snopes' world, family members are supposed to lie on each other's behalf in order to preserve the family name. We are given a glimpse of how Sarty really feels about his father's twisted morality when Sarty is faced with the prospect of corroborating his father's story in the barn-burning incident. Sarty feels both distressed and dejected at his dilemma. He is visibly frightened when he understands that he may have to testify; the text tells us that he crouches like a cornered animal, on a keg in the back of the store.


He aims for me to lie, he thought, again with that frantic grief and despair. And I will have to do hit.

Fortunately for Sarty, Mr. Harris, the aggrieved party, refuses to put the young boy in such a difficult position.

When his father later strikes him for failing to perform to his expectations in the make-shift court room (in the back of the country store), Sarty holds his silence. We get the impression that the young boy is familiar with his father's modus operandi. Abner Snopes is the kind of man who uses physical intimidation to silence and to coerce his critics into submission. There is also the sense that, on a deeper level, Snopes knows his young son is not especially enthralled with his methods of securing an advantage. So, Snopes resorts to violence as a coping mechanism; he aims to keep his son under his thumb for as long as he can.


"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 stick to you. Do you think either of them, any man there this morning would? Don't you know all they wanted was a chance to get at me because they knew I had?"

At the story's resolution, Sarty finally rebels; he warns de Spain about his father's intention to burn the de Spain barn down. It is this crucial act of betrayal which acts as the catalyst for Sarty's departure. So, he does leave because of his father; the text suggests that, in making a fresh start for himself, Sarty will not have to continue the perverted legacy of his father.




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Barn Burning

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