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Sarty and Dee: Analysis of Faulkner

Sarty in William Faulkner's "Barn Burning" and Dee in Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" are both rebels, but Sarty is a rebel with a cause, while Dee is a rebel without a cause. For Sarty, rebellion comes at a heavy cost, but he does it because it is the right thing to do. For Dee, rebellion is merely an expression of spoiled selfishness and a lack of respect for her mother and sister.

Faulkner establishes Sarty's rebellion slowly, introducing the reader first to the father's barn-burning past and Sarty's unwilling compliance with his father's wrongdoing, and then detailing the incident with the rug to show the reader how the father acts out his resentment. The father is a man with a chip on his shoulder, literally baiting Mrs. de Spain by walking deliberately through the fresh horse manure-Sarty noting that "his father could have avoided by a simple change of stride"-and then tracking it onto her pristine white rug. As Faulkner describes the scene, with Sarty observing his father, "the boy watched him pivot on the good leg and saw the stiff foot drag round the arc of the turning, leaving a final long and fading smear." His modus operandi is to engender strife with his employer and then to retaliate by burning the employer's barn, an act he has most recently been exonerated from even though he was, in fact, guilty. The father always uses Sarty to accomplish the barn-burning, possibly in an effort to deflect blame from himself and onto his young son, who will most likely not be punished for these destructive acts. Faulkner emphasizes the hostility in what the father does, as well. He is not just someone who cannot help setting fires; he is a man full of venom, waiting for a chance to strike back after he has provoked his employer to react to his incendiary behavior, if the pun can be pardoned.

Sarty rebels, taking the side of right and justice, demonstrating that he is opposed to being a part of his


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Sarty and Dee: Analysis of Faulkner. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:25, October 15, 2019, from