What is loyalty? Is the idea of loyalty the same for everybody? This may seem like a simple to answer but for Sarty in the “Burn Barning”, by William Faulkner, it is not that simple for him. He struggles daily between the loyalty he feels he should have for his father and the loyalty he should have toward society. Loyalty is a complicated concept, but it is at the center of every connection, involving individuals. Its presence is often questioned when it comes to love, relationships and family associations.
It defines who we are and is the blueprint of your character. Throughout “Barn Burning” loyalty is seen in the illustration of the characters, plot and symbolism. In the end, the theme that reign throughout the story was “Decisions”.
There are several different plots in “Barn Burning” that puts Sarty’s loyalty to the test regarding the relationship he has with his farther. He is constantly having to prove to himself that he is loyal to the family and show to his father that he will support him by any means necessary.
The different plots within the story is arranged in an order to build your suspense concerning how Sarty will support his dad in the different situations he forces him to be a part of. This point was further emphasized by the author’s statement, “What is told takes on a different meaning as it is brought in focus by the skillful writer who selects and orders the events that constitute the story’s plot (Meyer, 67).
To see Sarty’s struggle to make those decisions at his age pulls on the heart strings and makes you examine your own personal moral compass. The events of each plot presses upon to choose between family loyalty or society obligation.
Characters is “Barn Burning” was a struggle between father vs son, right vs wrong and man vs society. How they maneuvered through the relationship was painful and somewhat emotionally abusive. The father believed that his wrongs were right, and he wanted a son to follow in his same deceptive footsteps. To see Sarty’s struggle to prove to his father he was not this moral character that he despised but on the other hand he struggled to demonstrate to his conscious that he was a good person and deceit was not a gene he inherited. The Narrator continued to create conflict between the characters to measure their loyalty to the family and to each other. Sarty wanted the approval of his father and he knew the more dishonest he was the prouder his father would be, that is ironic to how the society is structured. Sarty is somewhat in an abusive relationship with his father because his father continues to look to him for to be dishonest and Sarty continues to find a way to gain his father respect. Sarty’ desire to come into his own person with his own beliefs could be a “struggle to desperately separate from his mother but also rejects the masculine culture of his poor white trash father” (Miles 151).
The symbolism in “Barn Burning” shows up in many aspects of the story. Abner family quote “You have got to learn to stick to your blood are you will have no blood to stick to you”. This statement was a written symbol that family is above all else. This statement was away to separate this family from society and communicate to them that we stick together above all else and betrayal of this code would leave you unprotected. The fire in the story is a symbol of how the relationship between Sarty and his father was dangerous and would ultimately be destroyed. As disappointment after disappointment was poured on to Sarty and Abner relationship it came to a boiling point and ultimately went up in flames.
In conclusion, “Barn Burning was a struggle from beginning to the end. A father struggling to get the approval from his son and a son never having the approval of his dad. The characters, plot and symbolism are what brings into focus the reality of what the family would never have. Sarty is put into situations that no child should ever have to experience, and his decisions would have a strong impact on his family and the people around him. Abner was determined to hold on to world that would ultimately cause him his life and his son. The reality that the main character two worlds will collide and will take different paths, one that will end in death and one that will end in uncertainty. The paths will ultimately separate them both from the blood that was supposed to keep them together. The main theme of the story goes back to what is right and what wrong and when do you choose family over law.