In the short stories

In the short stories

In the short stories, “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner and “The Lie” by Kurt Vonnegut, both main characters are maturing from childhood into adulthood. This maturing process occurs in two different ways. It can occur from speaking up for one’s self and sticking to one’s true values, even if those around disagree, as we see with Colonel Sartoris Snopes, in “Barn Burning”. Another way one can mature is by recognizing one’s own feelings, even if prompted by an outside factor, such as Eli Remenzel did with the help of his mother, Sylvia Remenzel.

Both Eli and Sartoris knew what they wanted, but they differed in how they acted and reacted. Eli did not take an active role in telling his father that he wasn’t accepted to Whitehill School for Boys, nor did he explain to his father that he didn’t want to go to the school altogether. Rather, he tore up his rejection letter and played along with his father until they arrived at the school. However, Sartoris, throughout the story, had an internal conflict if he should do what is right vs. stay loyal to his father as he described as, “Being pulled two ways like between two teams of horses” (Faulkner, 7).

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Sartoris’s father yelled at Sartoris after he almost told the Justice that his father in fact did burn down the barn, saying, “You got to learn. You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to stick to you” (Faulkner, 3). Sylvia Remenzel, at the beginning of the story, thought of her son as another one of the many Remenzel’s, naming him “number thirty one” (Vonnegut, 2). As the story progressed, Sylvia realized that best place for her son was not the Whitehill School for Boys, and her attitude towards Eli not attending impacted Eli, giving him the courage to stand up for himself and display to his fatehr that he did not want to attend Whitehill School for Boys.

Doctor Remenzel, after hearing about his sons rejection, pleaded with the board to force his son to be accepted, but to no avail. When Eli found out about this, we see in the story “Eli stood, his face filled with incredulity and shame that were instant. ‘You what?’ he said, and there was no childishness in the way he said it. Next came the anger. ‘You shouldn’t have done that!’ he said to his father.” This excerpt is where we see Eli standing up for his feeling, and going against what his father wanted for him. Both Eli and Sartoris began their stories following the wishes of their fathers, yet deep down disagreeing, while ending their stories as their own person, developing their own thoughts, and learning to express them.


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