Snopes feels superior only when he encounters someone who is black — in this case, the butler.Except in the South, nowhere in the United States could such a white-trash character like Abner Snopes enter the front door of a mansion if the butler forbade entry.
Farms can thrive without houses, but they are doomed to fail without barns. Although he knows that his father is a barn burner, Sarty fights the boys to defend his father's integrity, while hoping fervently that his father will stop burning barns: "Forever he thought. He cannot bring himself to finish the sentence, which presumably would end, "before he . That night at a makeshift camp, he calls for Sarty to join him in a walk, and their ensuing conversation elaborates again the theme of family loyalty versus truth and justice.
Realizing that Sarty was going to tell the Justice of the Peace the truth about the barn burning, Abner slaps his son in a dispassionate manner much like he earlier whipped the mules that pulled the wagon — "without heat." He warns Sarty about the importance of family and explains that none of the men in the courtroom would have defended him.
The opening of "Barn Burning" emphasizes the antithetical loyalties that confront Sarty. However, he warns Snopes to leave the county and not come back.
The setting is a makeshift court for a Justice of the Peace, for Abner Snopes has been accused of burning Mr. Immediately, Sarty is convinced that the people in the court are his and his father's enemies. The courtroom scene and the following fight outside between Sarty and some boys underscore Sarty's predicament.
Later that morning, de Spain rides up and infuriatingly tells Snopes that the rug is ruined, and that he is charging him 20 bushels of corn for destroying it, in addition to what Snopes already owes for renting the farm.
The snobbish tone that de Spain uses to berate Snopes — "But you never had a hundred dollars.
Along with Sarty, we do not know what trespasses between the two men, but it is soon apparent that de Spain has brought the rug for Snopes to clean.
Later, not satisfied with the way his two "bovine" daughters do the job, Snopes picks up a field stone and begins to vigorously scrub — and ruin — the rug himself.
Immediately, Sarty notices that his father possesses a "stiff black back" that is not dwarfed by the house. To Sarty, the mansion represents everything associated with truth, justice, and culture.
Snopes is defiant of the mansion's magnificence, and as Sarty watches him walk down the lane toward the house, we are presented with the central image of the story: "Watching him, the boy remarked the absolutely undeviating course which his father held and saw the stiff foot come squarely down in a pile of fresh droppings where a horse had stood in the drive and which his father could have avoided by a simple change of stride." As they approach the front of the house, the butler meets them at the door, telling Snopes to wipe his feet before entering, to which Abner responds with a command to the butler, "Get out of my way, nigger." When Mrs. That his father could so deliberately soil the aristocratic house with horse manure is inconceivable to him.