Barn Burning

Colonel Sartoris “Sarty” Snopes

The youngest son of the Snopes family, ten-year-old Sarty is named after a Confederate officer named Colonel Sartoris who comes up in a number of William Faulkner’s other works. The story often calls Sarty simply… (read full character analysis)

Abner Snopes

The patriarch of the Snopes family, Abner claims that he was once a “horsetrader,” though he was actually little more than a stealer of horses during the Civil War, as well as a mercenary (someone… (read full character analysis)

Lennie Snopes

Abner’s wife Lennie is only named once in the story; she is usually referred to as Sarty’s mother. Unlike Abner and Sarty, Lennie does not seem to have much of an independent life outside the… (read full character analysis)

Sarty’s sisters

While Lennie faces the difficulties of sharecropping life within the home with quiet determination, Sarty’s sisters deal with their lot with pure passivity. The sisters are described (from Sarty’s perspective) as large, lazy, and… (read full character analysis)

Sarty’s brother

Also unnamed, the brother is older than Sarty and seems to have traveled farther along the path of becoming their father. Sarty considers him to be more an adult than a fellow child: several times… (read full character analysis)
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The aunt

Lennie’s sister, Sarty’s aunt, lives with the family, but is mostly portrayed as simply another woman in the household who, ultimately, will give in to Abner’s desires. Only at the end does… (read full character analysis)

Major de Spain

Abner’s new employer after he is asked to leave his former community, the Major de Spain is a wealthy rural landowner and is the Snopes family’s landlord as well as their employer. He thinks… (read full character analysis)

Mr. Harris

Mr. Harris is a fellow farmer and a neighbor of the Snopes family at the beginning of the story, who takes Abner to trial for burning his barn, after Mr. Harris complained about Abner’s hog… (read full character analysis)

The Justice (II)

The story’s second judge presides over the community where the Snopes family has just moved, and oversees the case in which Abner has sued Major de Spain over the twenty bushels of corn that, the… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
The Justice (I)
The judge in the Snopes family’s first community finds that Mr. Harris has insufficient proof that it was Abner who burned his farm; even so, he suggests that the Snopes family leave the community for everyone’s peace of mind. Sarty describes him as a bespectacled, aging, and shabby-looking man.
Major de Spain’s servant
A black man who works at Major de Spain’s house, this unnamed character is elderly and neatly dressed, contrasting with Abner’s own shabby appearance in a way that makes Abner cling to his racial prejudices even more.
Miss Lula
A female servant, also black, who works for the de Spain family, and reacts with despair to Abner’s soiling of the rug.