Why does Mr. Snopes insist that Sarty be held when he burns Major de Spain's house?

Expert Answers

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In Faulkner's "Barn Burning," Abner Snopes insists that Sarty be held because he knows that Sarty will try to stop him from burning the barn.  Sarty simply wiggles and fights with his mother until he manages to get free, then is quick enough to get by his sister before she can reach him.

Abner suspects early on that Sarty does not feel the blind loyalty toward him and his family that Abner thinks he should.  From a reader's standpoint, Sarty has a conscience and a sense of right and wrong, whereas Abner thinks Sarty should blindly support him no matter what the situation. 

Abner is correct in his assessment of Sarty, and Sarty's thoughts turn to actions by the end of the story when he does, indeed, warn Abner's intended victim.

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