What does Sarty think when he sees the house of Major De Spain in "Barn Burning"?"Barn Burning" by William Faulkner Why does the house make him feel safe?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sarty is amazed by the sight of the De Spain house.  Although he has moved twelve times in his young life with his family, until this time "they had sojourned...in a poor country, a land of small farms and fields and houses, and he had never seen a house like this before".  In the moment that he sets eyes on the estate in its majestic setting, Sarty forgets "his father and the terror and depair" associated with his life.  He had not known until that point that there was anything else other than what he had experienced of the world, and the knowledge that there exists beauty and dignity as epitomized by the De Spain home opens up the possibility that there is an alternative to the degradation in which he has always lived.

Sarty feels a sense of "peace and joy" when he sees the magnificent dwelling that he is too young to put into words.  Essentially, he feels safe here, because "people whose lives are a part of this peace and dignity are beyond (his father's) touch...rendering even the barns and stable and cribs which belong to it impervious to the puny flames he might contrive".  Sarty wants what the house represents, but purely, and "without envy".  The house proves to him that there are things like nobility and goodness in the world, things that he recognizes as positive and desirable and even attainable for himself, that his father can never destroy.

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Barn Burning

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