What are Sarny's jobs in Nightjohn, and how does she compare her work to field work?

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sarny is about twelve years old at the time the story takes place. Since she has not yet reached maturity, she is "still left to be a child." As such, she works around the quarters, "clean(ing) the yard and gather(ing) eggs and help(ing) Mammy with the young ones." She also tends the flower beds that beautify the big house where the white people live.

Sarny says that the work she does

"ain't dawn to dark hard work like the field work and it leaves (her) a bit of time to listen and see things."

Field work is grueling and all-consuming; those who had to work in the fields "are always tired...always caved in with work." During planting time especially, the field hands "have to work until they drop...Waller whips them past that and they get so tired they don't know up from down." Sarny describes how the new workers and the old cry out in pain in their sleep after a long day out on the fields. She says that sometimes, field hands are so exhausted by the end of the day that they cannot even walk and must be carried home by their fellow workers.