A Comparison Between Barn Burning and a Rose for Emily and your Family Tradition

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Faulkner s Rebellions William Faulkner’s short stories Barn Burning and A Rose for Emily are keys to understanding what Faulkner s feelings about the confines of society. Both are stories of a person going against the traditional norms of society to ensure that they are comfortable in life. William Faulkner uses a similar theme in both “A Rose for Emily” as well as “Barn Burning” to portray the idea that rebelling against traditional ways may be the only way to become independent.

In A Rose For Emily, Emily goes against the tradition of a young marriage. In the late 1800’s it was traditional to get married at a young age, while Emily stayed single throughout her entire life. Intimacy before marriage was not accepted by society either, but this did not stop Emily and her lover from living together. The townspeople described her situation as “…a disgrace to the town and a bad example to the young people” (30). Emily resisted the traditional ways of society to accommodate her own happiness. In “Bam Burning”, Sarty knows that what his father is doing is wrong and does not want to live that life once he grows older.

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Since burning barns and thievery had been part of the family’s tradition, it was expected of Sarty. His father tries to convince Sarty that his life may depend on these traditions by saying, “You’re getting to be a man. You got to learn. You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to stick to you” (147). His father is trying to threaten Sarty by saying that if he does not support his family, then they will not tolerate him. In the end, Sarty sacrifices his family for his independence, because he would rather be honest and alone than with a dishonest family.

Both Emily’s and Sarty’s lives were extremely influenced by their fathers. In “A Rose for Emily”, Emily’s father did not think any man was good enough for his daughter, which left Emily a single woman until after his death. The townspeople describe her period of denial by telling them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days….Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly (28). A direct result her father’s death, she murdered her own lover, Homer Barron, in fear of losing him. Her denial of death occurs in both her father and Homer’s death. She slept with Homer’s corpse for over 40 years, never admitting to the fact that he was dead. The only way Emily could get what she wanted was to go against everything society considered normal.

Sarty’s father forces him to make a decision, leaving him a much happier life. In “Barn Burning”. Sarty saw his father burning down barn after barn and realized that he did not want to be like that. As the story progresses, Sarty begins to realize that he does not have to live this life, even if his father and brother do. The more Sarty’s father tries to force Sarty to become like himself, the more Sarty knows that he does not want to. His father was the cause of Sarty’s decision to give up his family to become someone respectable, unlike his father. Emily’s character does not change throughout the story.

She has always gone against the traditional ways and did as she pleased. Sarty is a dynamic character because in the beginning of “Barn Burning”, he does as his father says even though he does not want to. As the story progresses, Sarty starts to realize that he does not want to be like his father. Sarty’s turning point is when his father is about to burn another bar and he thinks to himself, “I could run on and on and never look back, never need to see his face again.

Only I can’t. I can’t (153). He starts to think of giving up his family to do the right thing. At the end of “Barn Burning”, Sarty completely changes and becomes independent, leaving behind his family. Sarty does what he is told to do in the beginning and what he thinks is right in the end. William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and “Barn Burning” both capture the American culture of rebellion against society. The use of the themes that Faulkner uses illustrates that rebellion against normal ways is sometimes the only way that one can achieve true happiness in their life.

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A Comparison Between Barn Burning and a Rose for Emily and your Family Tradition. (2022, Dec 23). Retrieved from


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