Course Hero Logo

Barn Burning | Study Guide

William Faulkner

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Barn Burning Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 June 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, February 7). Barn Burning Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 10, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Barn Burning Study Guide." February 7, 2017. Accessed June 10, 2023.


Course Hero, "Barn Burning Study Guide," February 7, 2017, accessed June 10, 2023,

Barn Burning | Quotes


Our enemy he thought in that despair; ourn! mine and hisn both! He's my father!


During the first trial Sarty tries to be loyal to his father and convince himself Mr. Harris is his enemy. However, Sarty knows Abner is guilty and siding with his father puts him on the wrong side of the law. Thus, he feels despair as he is torn between the two sides.


I gave him enough wire to patch up his pen.

Mr. Harris

During the trial Mr. Harris states he provided Abner with the means to fix the problem between them, Abner's runaway hog. Abner, though, did not fix the pen with the wire given him, and the problem escalated. Mr. Harris tried to resolve the problem without resorting to the law, but Abner's obstinacy left him no other choice.


He aims for me to lie ... And I will have to do hit.


Sarty knows he will have to give false testimony in the Harris trial to save his father. He is reluctant to do so but fearful of his father. He feels he has no other choice, and the dishonesty draws him downward into grief.


You got to learn to stick to your own blood.


Abner repeatedly tries to instill family loyalty above all else in Sarty. He expects complete obedience, even when he is legally and morally wrong. He threatens if Sarty betrays his family, Sarty will end up alone.


Maybe he will feel it too. Maybe it will even change him.


Sarty is strongly affected by Major de Spain's grand mansion, which he sees as a place of peace and safety. He hopes the atmosphere of his family's new surroundings will lift his father out of his violent ways and allow him to become a better man.


But you never had a hundred dollars. You never will.

Major de Spain

After Abner has deliberately ruined the rug, Major de Spain taunts Abner about his poverty. While Abner is certainly in the wrong, de Spain's contempt only serves to worsen the situation and widen the social-class divide between them.


You done the best you could!


Sarty tries to support his father after Major de Spain penalizes him for ruining the rug. To Sarty, Abner has tried to do as de Spain asked, even if he did not do the job well. He finds his father's punishment unfair for this reason, not realizing his father meant to ruin the rug all along.


Abner! No! No! Oh, God. Oh, God. Abner!


Lennie's feelings about her husband's violence surface through her protests against his actions. Although she voices dissent, she is too weak to stop Abner from doing harm. She cannot shield her family from his abuse, and she cannot stop his arson.


Better tie him to the bedpost.

The Brother

Sarty's brother is a younger version of Abner, helping his father plan and execute crimes in defiance of authority. The brother may eventually become even worse than Abner, as this statement shows; even Abner doesn't want to see Sarty tied up.


Lemme go! ... I don't want to have to hit you!


Sarty feels compelled to warn Major de Spain that Abner intends to burn down his barn. As his mother restrains him, his cry shows he is willing to resort to extreme measures to do what he believes is right. Violence is all he has known at home, and here he shows he is ready to dish it out, if necessary, to get his way.


He did not look back.


Sarty has come to the breaking point with his family and his past. Despite his feelings of family loyalty, he can no longer live with the old, violent ways. He walks away from them without regret, knowing it is the only way to create a better future for himself.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Barn Burning? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!