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A Comparison of Ben in Stones and Sarty in Barn Burning

The story Stones by Timothy Findley and the story Barn Burning by William
Faulkner both illustrate family issues in a plain tone that focus on extracting the influence of
a father on a son and how their relationship evolves. Stones is narrated by a man called Ben
Max. He recalls the days before and after his father goes to fight in WW2, how the war
changes his father and his family, and the actions he takes to love his father. Barn Burning
is told through the third-person perspective of a young, sensitive child named Sarty Snopes,
who finally betrays his family by pointing out his fathers carelessness in burning down the
barn and never coming back. Both stories give readers an emotional impression, and in terms
of the similarities and differences between the two figures, there is a lot to discuss.
Having grown up in different familes, Ben and Sarty have different traits. Bens family is
relatively better off by owning a flower ship. He lives a harmonious life with his family
before his father left for war. In personality, he is portrayed like a stone, niave and willing,
known as the rabbit of his family, always the most inquisitive and the least informed,
while Sarty is less educated, living in a poor family struggling with maintaining living and
working as tenants for farming (Findley, 137); therefore, he is inarticulate, impressionable,
and not a rabbit at home like Ben. He tends to behave beyond his age all the time because
he is always under his fathers influence and is always told by his father Youre getting to be
a man (Faulkner, 237). Also, his father forces him by saying, You got to learn to stick to
your own blood or you ain't going to have any blood to stick to you (Faulkner, 237).
However, he inherently has his own thoughts about himself and the world.
In response to his fathers abuse or force, Ben and Sarty react differently. Ben never
fights against his father, even when his father becomes horrible after returning from war. He
notices that his fathers personality had completely changed by suffering from PTSD (post-

traumatic stress disorder). Ben loses the usual desired relationship with his father. Ben recalls
that his father went insane, he drank, swore, and tried to get arrested by making troubles,
even broke Bens collar bone by throwing him onto the floor. And until his father tried to kill
his mother using a hammer which caused his mother to leave, and his brother and sister to
ignore their father, he chose to stay with him. He initially improved the worsened relationship
with his father by showing him unconditional love. As he emotionally narrated in the story,
Our father's wounds were greater than we had been told. There was not a mark on his body,
but- far inside- he had been destroyed. (Findley, 139) He understands his father and
expresses his empathy to him. When his father wants him to place his ashes among his fellow
soldiers that died in Dieppe, Ben takes it well and finishes his will. He finished it when
neither his siblings would. They said "Gone, Good riddance" (Findley, 143). On the contrary,
Sarty reacts to his fathers force in an opposite way-he betrayed him! As soon as he is free, he
bursts into the landowner de Spains house and cries out, Barn (Faulkner, 246)! The result
of his information brings death to his father undoubtedly after he hears gunshots behind him
when he runs away. Although he had always been tortured by this dilemma of choosing
between family loyalty and justice enforcement, at that moment, as brave as he can, he
inherently cries out what has been on in his mind for long time. He broke away from his
family while got justice enforced in this society. This greatly differs from Ben, who never
gives up family instead.
As we see above, at the end, Ben does not leave his father whereas Sarty runs away. The
choice they make in response to their fathers bad behavior reflects a great difference between
them. There are still similarities between these two figures for sure. Both Ben and Sarty meet
family change at a very young age and are very innocent at that time; they embrace life with
hope. Ben hopes his father can return to normal life quickly and forms a desired relationship
with him as usual; Sarty wishes his father could be affected by the grand mansion on which

he could feel a surge of peace and joy as he did. He imagines that Maybe he will feel it
too. Maybe it will even change him now from what maybe he couldnt help but be
(Faulkner, 238). And they both are alone, having no one to turn to when they try to solve their
fathers troubles; even they do not get support from their siblings. In addition, as a family
member, they both tightly love their fathers. Bens love and tolerance to his father overflows;
however, Sarty does not seem to be good at expressing his love. And what we can confirm is
Sartys preference to justice than to family obedience doesnt completely cover his love to his
father and his family. For example, he instinctively cries out He ain't done it! He ain't burnt .
. . to the judge in the court to protect his father even though he is already fed up with his
interest in burning barns before (Faulkner, 243). Also, when he hears boys calling his father
Barn Burner outside the courtroom, he defends his father and his familys fame by fighting
with them and gets hurt (Faulkner, 236).
Ben and Sartys choices lead them to different life orbits. At this point, we cannot simply
comment that Ben is a good boy and Sarty is not. We appreciate Bens giving, at the same
time, we marvel at Sartys betrayal. If, lets imagine, Ben and Sartys experiences are
interchanged, which means Ben has a father always thinking of burning the barns and Sarty is
tracked in the darkness of having his father making troubles often, and all other conditions
remained the same, would they accordingly change their actions? And how will we look at
their differences when we think it over in a perspective of human nature? When we compare
both figures through chewing more detail in the stories, we would have more space to think,
to discuss and to discover.

Works Cited
Faulkner, William. Barn Burning, Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Second
Canadian Edition. Nelson Education, 2007. 234-247. Print.
Findley, Timothy. Stones, Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Second Canadian
Edition. Nelson Education. 2007, 135-167. Print.