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Custom 'Barn Burning' Essay

William Faulkner's book “Barn Burning” is unique in that it exposes historical background of Justice System and ethical dilemmas that have always bogged down the system. The book starts in a business store that doubles up as a courtroom. It’s is a classical history of the United States justice system during the 1800s. The pursuit of justice was less developed as seen in the way the courtroom is jammed with people, and smells of cheese. As people sit for the court session, their minds can’t stop wondering away from important business of the day. They see the cans around and straightly think of food, leaving them with less concentration on the important business at hand. This was way before the United States reformed its court system and modernized its courtrooms (Temple & Gillespie, page 112).

There is social conflict running throughout the story, threatening to tear up Sarty’s family. Such conflicts must have been several during William’s lifetime, perhaps that is the reason he writes so passionately about it. The writer portrays the relationship between Sarty’s family members as quite atrocious. They live in abject poverty and have to keep moving from one place to another in pursuit of a better life. Even then, they don’t really attain a better life as they are engaged in endless battles with each other. The father, for instance, is quite tyrannical and wants to intimidate his son to tolerate his uncouth social behavior. He has the rare character of burning people’s burns and his son knows this. However, he emphasizes to him that he must never betray his family members. This becomes a heavy burden for Sarty as he considers it grossly wrong to destroy other people’s property. Though related by blood, the two people are in perpetual disagreement because they believe in completely different systems. Sarty’s mother cannot help anything either as her relationship with the two is too superficial and almost dysfunctional (Faulkner, page 13).

There was raging conflict between various social classes during William’s life time as they are today. However, his actions are exaggerated because he tends to take the law into his hands to seek revenge rather than seek legal redress in the court of law. Thus, his actions only portray him in bad light although he also suffers due to social injustice. Basically, William intends to show that one cannot correct an injustice by committing another injustice. The extreme poverty of Sarty’s family sharply contrasts with the affluent life in their neighborhood. However, Sarty’s father opts to wage a personal war against the rich, like Major de Spain, instead of working hard to improve his living conditions. As a result, he pushes his family farther into poverty instead of helping them out. He faces a court case after another, all of which he is made to pay huge fines. The fact that he pleads with the court to decrease his fine reveals that he is already financially strained. On the other hand, Sarty does not seem to bother about social cruelty and readily embraces the community. It appears that he is so keen on getting himself out of the poverty cycle. However, we don’t get to witness this as the story ends when he is still a young man (Faulkner, page 22).

Youth and courage that comes with youthfulness also comes out quite clearly in the book. Sarty, being a young man with immense energy does not shy away from challenging his father when he feels that he is missing the mark. Indeed, it was highly anticipated that he would have betrayed his father had he been given a chance to testify in the court. It is probably why his father rushed him out so that he does not get an opportunity to give the courtroom his views. When we see his father warn him against testifying against a family member, we get an impression that he is really bold (Krouse & Afifi, page 53). In most cases, one would not have the audacity to challenge an elderly person, especially one’s parents. The youth are always faced with several challenges as they cross over from childhood to adulthood. While their parents feel that they are still vulnerable and cannot be allowed to make independent decisions, the youth are always anxious to achieve social independence. This puts them in constant conflict with their parents the same way Sarty was always at loggerheads with his father. In fact, this particular example shows that the desire for social independence among the youth is not misplaced. If Sarty were to make his decisions without his father’s influence, there is no doubt his family would be more respected by the community. However, this does not come to pass because Sarty’s efforts to uphold ethical behavior is thwarted by his father who wants him to support his ill deeds (Faulkner, page 23).

In conclusion, some of the challenges that faced the United States justice system have so far been adequately addressed, like crowding in the courtroom. However, the desire for ethical practices is far from being achieved as the Judicial System is still accused of abetting corruption. There have been several instances when the state has been accused of protecting vested interest, like Sarty’s father demanded of him.

Custom 'Barn Burning' Essay

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