William Faulkner's “Barn Burning” has many minor characters, some that even have only one line. Colonel Sartoris Snopes or better known as Sarty is one of the more major characters that is defined by the minor characters, mainly being his family. They help define Sarty's character by being his opposite. His mother Lennie Snopes might as well not exist since she does nothing that is really useful in the story. The twins, Sartys sisters do not help out their mother and just sit around talking meanwhile the mother does all of the house work.
Sarty's brother is the least mentioned in their family the story, only mentions a couple of facts about him. Sarty is the ten year old son of Abner and Lennie. He is forced by his father to help him burn barns, and then lie about it in court,like when it says “He aims for me to lie, he thought,again with that frantic grief and despair. And I will have to do hit”. He also feels guilty because he is acting as an accomplice in this. He does not want to lie for his father because all he really wants is justice. At the end of the story when his father goes to burn the barn of the de Spains, “ “De Spain! He cried, panted. “Where's... ” then he saw the white man too emerging from a white door down the hall. “Barn! ” he cried “barn! ”” Sarty cannot take it any more and decides he wants is going to warn Major de Spain. He runs off screaming what is happening to Major de Spain. When Major de Spain goes to catch his father Sarty is just running and hears three shots. It is never known if his father dies or not. Lennie, Sarty's mother is portrayed as weak and powerless. She is afraid of Abner, her husband, because she does not seem to be able to stop him from burning barns.
Although she tries hard to stop him she fails, for instance when Abner tell her to hold Sarty when he is going to burn the barn and her son says to her “lemme go! ” “I dont want to have to hit you! ”. This shows she is very powerless with her family and that they can get away with doing anything that they want, it also shows that Sarty is more independent despite his age. Another example that shows she is weak is when she is doing all of the house work and the twins are just sitting there. She does not put them to work or make them do anything. Sarty's brother,does not have a big role in the story.
All that is known about his brother is that he chews tobacco constantly when it mentions “chewing tobacco steadily”. Another thing we know about the older brother is that he has his own bed. “The older brother in the other, himself” this quote reveals this fact. The most important thing that is known about the older brother is that he is okay with being an accomplice to his father in burning barns. This is known when in the story it says “Better tie him to the bedpost” which is what the brother says when the father wants to go burn a barn and Sarty is against it.
The twins who are Sartys sisters don’t speak or interact with Sarty in the story. Sarty believes them to be lazy girls. “Two hours later the boy was chopping wood behind the house within which his mother and aunt and the two sisters (the mother and aunt, not the two girls, he knew that; even at this distance and muffled by walls the flat loud voices of the two girls emanated an incorrigible idle inertia) were setting up the stove to prepare a meal” this particular quote expresses the fact that he believes them to be lazy because it made it seem as if it was very obvious that it was his mother and his aunt doing all of the work.
The mother plays a big role in the sisters being lazy because she does not force them to do anything. The only one in the family that has the sisters do any work is Abner Snopes, their father. “the rug spread flat in the dust beside the bubbling wash-pot, the two sisters stooping over it with that profound and lethargic reluctance, while the father stood over them in turn, implacable and grim, driving them though never raising his voice again” this quotes is what mainly signifies their father making them work. All of the minor characters in this story are very different from Sarty.
His mother is weak and afraid of Abner, whereas Sarty is not afraid to stand up for what he believes is right. His brother just follows his fathers example and is content with helping his father burn barns. The two twin sisters are just lazy and do not want to help anyone out. Sarty does not get along with them for this particular reason because he is different in the sense that he is not lazy and he does what he feels is right. In the end of the story Sarty finally gets what he really wants and it is to run away, this shows that he is independent and doesn't need people to survive unlike the rest of his family.