Barn Burning is about the struggle of a boy to do what is right during the Post Civil War era. The main character, Sartoris Snopes, is a poor son of a migrant tenant farmer. In the opening scene he is being asked by a circuit judge about the burning of a farmers barn by his father. The boy does not tell on his father and is not forced to do so, but he thinks that he would have done so had he been asked. The father, Abner Snopes, served in the Civil War for both sides and has difficulty venting his anger.
Usually he does so through the burning of other peoples barns when they wrong him. The symbol of blood is used by Faulkner to contribute to the theme of loyalty to the family. One use of blood is shown when the boy is called to testify and is pressured by his father to lie. When the boy is on stand he is stressed by the fear that his father will do something crazy if he tells on him. Also, his father tells him that some things are more important than the truth, that family is the most important thing.
You were fixing to tell them. You would have told them(484). This statement made by Abner shows how the boy truly feels about his blood fathers actions and where he stands when it comes to telling a lie or the truth regarding those actions. Also, the scene where that statement takes place depicts how the father feels about family. He thinks that a lie is justified if you are doing so for another family member in order to keep them from suffering consequences.
The use of blood is also evident when the boy thinks, our enemy, Ourn! Mine and hisn both! Hes my father(481). Here this shows that the father has done this before and the boy is used to dealing with it. The use of blood is also utilized when the father explains that the family must stick together. Following the courthouse scene the boy and his father talk about the incident and Abner states, You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you aint going to have any blood to stick to you(484).
In saying this, it is almost as if he is trying to convince the boy to lie for his own blood. The boy despises his father for all the horrible things he has done to people in the past, yet he still sticks up for him. After Abner has deliberately destroyed Major DeSpains expensive imported rug his son states, You done the best you could, If he wanted hit done different why didnt he wait and tell you how? (488).
Thus providing evidence that the boy still has some respect for his blood, and though he is against his fathers actions he still supports them because he is family. Faulkners use of blood contributes to the theme of loyalty to the family in several ways. Throughout the short story there are many references to loyalty and sticking to your own blood. Barn Burning is a very in-depth short story and had to be read carefully in order to obtain the full meaning and recognize the morals.