How does Sarty's conflict in "Barn Burning" compare with Syliva's conflict in "The White Heron"?

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The conflicts in "Barn Burning" and "White Heron" are essentially the same in that both involve a child of similar age who must deal with issues of betrayal to stand up for a higher moral good. Sarty, who has had the ideal of family loyalty literally beaten into him, must decide between honesty and betraying his degenerate father, and Sylvia must choose between a chance at both helping her grandmother monetarily and experiencing a first friendship, and preserving her oneness with nature.  Both children are socially isolated and must make their decisions alone, and both take a giant step toward maturity through their actions.

Their conflicts differ in that Sarty's is more exterior and deliberate.  He makes a conscious decision to warn the next intended victim of his father's maliciousness, and as a result is left without home or family, his life circumstances irrevocably changed.  Sylvia's choice is more subtle and internal, more of an acknowledgement of something inside of her - indeed, she expresses a bit of surprise that she cannot deliver her beloved heron to the hunter. 

Both chldren find solace for the isolation resulting from their actions in nature.  Sarty "looks at the sky...sees the stars and constellations...feels a strange peace he is too young to understand", and the author asks for Sylvia that nature share "its gifts and graces (with) this lonely country child".