A Rose For Emily and Other Short Stories

Potential Free-Will: Sarty’s Choice in Barn Burning College

Being the son of a pyromaniac involves a vast amount of trust and requires protecting the family at all costs. In William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning,” Colonel Sartoris “Sarty” Snopes, son of the pyromaniac Abner Snopes, is a young boy who must make a difficult decision: stay with his father and play into the life of an arsonist, protecting the family and risking his life for them, or leave his family and let them be taken by the authorities, ultimately being free from their dangerous lifestyle. Sarty’s dilemma is the internal conflict to disobey his father by betraying his trust and running away, and act that could damage the harmony of the family.

When the story begins, Sarty is given the chance to be free from his father’s rule; Sarty’s first true choice is to either tell the judge the truth which will get his father arrested for burning their neighbor’s barn, or to lie to the judge and keep his father’s secret. While walking up to talk to the judge, Sarty thought “he aims for me to lie [and] I will have to do hit,” with “he” referring to his father (Faulkner 250). In a situation like this, lying is really dangerous: a man’s barn was burned to the ground and someone could have been killed, but Sarty chose to do as his father...

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