Sarty from Barn Burning and Sammy in A&P Character Analysis

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In this article, the two discussed main characters of the story, Sarty and Sammy, are said to be having a similar characters depicting a naivety and immaturity and throughout their stories their situations caused them to learn how to be matured.

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The two characters were also put into a situation where their mind is in confusion; Sarty having a confused thought about if he is to follow his morality or his father’s provided moral and Sammy having a confused thought about human’s behavior.


            The main character of the story Barn Burning; Sarty, depicted himself as a person confused in to what decision he must make; he’s confused if he had to go with his father’s morality or decide according to his own moral views (Faulkner)

            Sarty ought to move away from the oppressive situation that his family life’s experiencing (Faulkner)

            He is a courageous boy who took the risk of being cursed by his own family by standing on his own morality.

            Sarty became matured through knowing what is definitely right from that of what his father taught him. His father was the one who triggered his naivety to be enhanced and turn to knowing what is definitely right (Faulkner)

            Sarty does know that what his father did is an act of immorality but he knows that acting against his father’s will would be an act of betraying his own blood that he considers father and so as to his whole family (Faulkner)

Making the decision did not turn out to be easy for the young man because Sarty knows that choosing to defend his father is an act of betrayal on the justice’s side and being a part of the evilness while choosing to be on his father’s side is also an act of betrayal to his father (Faulkner)

            These characters depicted by Sarty shows his innocence which at the end turned into a sense of maturity.


On the other hand, Sammy as the main character of the A&P story is a young boy who does seem to be innocent. He does not care about anything and he is said to be making fun of the costumers that enters the A&P store where he use to work  (Updike)

            Sammy’s character is truly changed into a mature state when he felt empathy for the girls who came in to the store and were being scolded by their manager and he realized that the act was not just and so he decided to quit from the store (Updike)

            He became matured that he realized that standing to defend anybody being mistreated is something that he could and should do.

In Sammy’s situation, he figured out that people’s policy comes from those who are on the authority and that what they want is what’s considered as a rule and or policy while what other people want is a kind of violating the law (Updike)

This situation is also depicted in Sarty’s part because he is under his father’s authority that’s why he use to follow what his father tells him to do so and that; not obeying to his father’s morality is considered as an act of betrayal

Support and evidence for the thesis

Discussing the characteristics of both characters of the two different stories, both the characters faced a tough situation of making a difficult decision.

Sarty created a big decision of standing for justice though it meant betraying his own father and Sammy making a difficult decision of quitting on his job though the manager was his fathers friend.

            It is evidence that they both undergo into a situation in which their decision relied on their choice and stand and that is to stand for what they believe even if it meant hurting or moving away from someone special or good to them just to give justice to those who are in the right side.

            It is said that they are both a young man who changed and became matured through what they have experienced because they where able to make the right decision.

            The decision they made caused them to realize that things around them are not as easy as they see it.

            Sarty grew up believing on what his father taught him and obeyed his father’s morality and at the end realizes that what his father taught him was a kind of evilness by oppressing other people.

            On the other hand, Sammy is an easy going boy who does not seem to care for anyone but then realizes that what his manager did was also an act of evilness by not respecting other people’s right.

Quotations Explained

“Betraying your own father is not a small matter, and the writer’s aim to this story is that he wanted to depict Sarty as a boy at the age of ten already possesses the courage not to follow his father’s morality.”(5) (Pamela Hindman Hearn)

            This quote means that it is not easy to betray or disobey the will of your own father and that Faulkner, the writer of the story want’s his readers to believe that a boy like Sarty would have the strength and or courage to do such thing for the sake of justice (5)

“Through Sarty’s view, Abner is a man who praises fire, and uses it as his ace or weapon in order to fight back in a society that does not possess justice, Sarty also considered him as a man whom you can compare with a stiff and ruthless limp…”(8) (Pamela Hindman Hearn)

This quote explains how Sarty depicted his father’s character as someone who is really evil. Considering that Abner is not really as evil as what they thought hence he is considered as some kind of a cult member, a worshipper of the evilness (8).

            Lengel said “he don’t want to have an argument with the three girls and he wanted them to cover their shoulders when they will go inside the A&P next time because that is the policy of the store.”(Last page) (Updike).

            The manager scolded the three girls because of their attire, and the manager said that he wanted them in a decent dress next time that they will enter the store because that is one of the store’s policy or stated rule (Last page).

“That is a policy you made. Policy is what the kingpin states as a policy; it is what the kingpin wants, what the other people want is a kind of juvenile act or juvenile delinquency.”(Last page) (Updike).

Sammy stated that the policy is what Lengel wants. He viewed the policy as what a certain authority wants and what other people wants is a kind of a violating act (Last page).


            There are a lot of characteristics and situation in which we can compare the main characters of the story Barn Burning and A&P.

            We can compare Sarty and Sammy through their innocence or naivety when it comes to the evil act or the unjust act in their surroundings.

Then we can compare their similarities with regards on how they became matured by acting against that certain unjust act made by the others and standing on their own views of morality and beliefs.

            Therefore although the story, both their situations caused them to make a decision basing on their own will to defend the side of justice.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. “Barn Burning.” 1938.

Pamela Hindman Hearn, Southeast Missouri State University “Teaching Faulkner: Meaning through Metaphor “, 2003-2007.

Updike, John. “A&P.” 1961.


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Sarty from Barn Burning and Sammy in A&P Character Analysis. (2016, Sep 08). Retrieved from

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