Please give me a short summary to the story "Barn Burning".

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When the story opens, ten-year-old Sarty watches as his degenerate father, Abner Snopes, is being tried on a charge of arson.  Although he knows his father is guilty, he feels a sense of familial loyalty to him.  Sarty knows he may be called to testify against his father, and he is not sure what he will say.

As it turns out, Sarty is never called on to testify, but his father recognizes that the child might have told the truth if he had been summoned before the judge.  That night, Snopes slaps Sarty across the face for his inclination towards "betrayal".

It is not long before Snopes provokes a fight with his new employer, Major de Spain, as well.  He deliberately ruins a very expensive rug in the de Spain home, then takes the Major to court himself, charging that the price de Spain is planning to take from his wages as repayment for the rug is too high.  Surprisingly, the judge agrees with Snopes, but he also emphasizes that Snopes is still responsible for the damages.  Angry, Snopes now decides to burn de Spain's barn.

Sarty rebels at this point and Snopes orders his wife to keep the child at home while he goes to execute his treachery, but Sarty escapes and warns de Spain.  Knowing he can never go home again, the young boy flees.  Alone that night, he rests on a hilltop and experiences a new sense of peace, and does not look back again.

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