Although many people try to fight for their identity, the identity of a person is solely dependent on the behavior or personality of that person, and this behavior is influenced by both external and internal environment of the named individual. Different people respond differently to the environment they live in. This is depicted in the two books; “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Dave Sanders in and “Barn Burning” by Sarty Snopes. Dave Sanders is a protagonist who at his young age felt that he was not being recognized as a man. He gets irritated by the way he is treated at the workplace by the rest of the workers and tries, by all means, to identify himself as a man and change the perspective of the other people towards him. He goes ahead and purchases a gun as a way of trying to prove that he is a grown-up. Sarty, on the other hand, is a boy who portrays himself as a mature boy and has a sense of dignity, justice, peace, and loyalty. These stories bring us to the evaluation of human behavior and his or her environment and the effect they have on their identity.
The book brings out an environment of harassment and bullying. Dave experiences bullying from his “friends” and neighbors who make him feel low of him. As a teenager, Dave is denied his rights. His parents do not perceive him as an adult, and his professor does not treat him with respect. Instead of Dave’s parents taking him seriously and embracing him as a grown-up, they treated him like a little child every time. This act caused Dave to be bitter with his life and stirred up thoughts of purchasing a gun to prove that he had become an adult. In his mind, Dave thought that by possessing a firearm, it would be enough proof of his masculinity and that he would kill anyone; Black or White at any time. He felt that by doing so, he would earn respect from his parents as well as the people surrounding him.
The environment in which Dave was raised made him think that being a grown-up means being powerful. He regarded power as the source of respect which he thought would come by him acquiring a gun. He believed that he would have control over life and death which would give him an identity. The familial environment where Dave was raised did not give him the opportunity to prove himself as a man. His father was a strict disciplinarian and could beat him like a mule. Instead of teaching Dave how to become a man, his father continues to instill fear in him and treating him like a little child.
Dave’s employer Mr. Hawkins also stands up as an obstacle to Dave’s growth. Mr. Hawkins fails to give Dave a chance to advance in his work in the firm. Dave received little money from his job even when he was made to work like the rest of the men. This act signifies exploitation, and it made Dave flee from his place to another place where he would grow. He realized that the hindrance for growth was the place he was living and the people he lived with. Dave, however, does not develop at once in the course of the story. This is depicted in his interaction with the gun. He tries to shoot the first time, but he is unable. However, after the first attempt, he gains the confidence to fire off shots the second time. However, this success is short-lived. Dave ends up humiliating himself by killing Mr. Hawkin’s mule and lying to his mother.
In the book “Burn Burning” by William Faulkne (1968), on the other hand, presents a young boy called Sarty is brought out as one who is grown up and portraying an adult character. The story begins by a narration of how Sarty is called to testify against his father who was taken to court for allegations that he had burned Mr. Harri’s barn.although the first impression of Sarty is that of childish behavior, by having cravings for food while in the court, the passage also brings him out as a person who matures enough to stand in court. Sarty knows that he would lie if called upon to testify against his father. However, Sarty stays silent, and this allows his father to be released from the court by justice.
Sarty’s environment for growth is depicted as one who appreciates his abilities and powers. His family enjoys his values and allows Sarty to develop his values and character. Sarty has a sense of justice as well as loyalty. However, his father prompts him to lie in court. The sense of justice might have developed from spending much time in the courtrooms and listening to the proceedings of the court truth. He does not testify against his father. Instead, he stays silent, and that allows his father to be released from court and sent away from the country. When Sarty’s father wants to revenge over the accusations made against him of burning Mr. Harri’s barn, he plots to cook it. However, Sarty finds out what his father had conspired to do and runs ahead of him to report the plot. Sarty does not go with his father to burn the barns because he knows that it is wrong for his father to burn the barns. Sarty has a sense of protecting society from destruction among other evils even from his father. Sarty also respects his parents. He threatens to hit his mother but does not hit her. He intends to save the De Spain barn from being burned by his father.
Comparison Between Dave Sanders And Sarty Snopes
Both Dave and Sarty are young boys from poor backgrounds. Sarty is from a poor white family. Poverty is depicted in the aspect of hunger pointed out in the introductory part of the narrative. Similarly, Dave comes from a family of black people who are enslaved in working in plantations for income. The poverty aspect is also depicted in the mentioning of the low salaries paid to Dave after toiling for long hours on the farm.
In both cases, Dave and Sarty are children who are trying to identify themselves as mature men. Both of them eventually runs away from their homes to unknown places with the dream of being recognized as adult men. The two young characters are young boys of the same age. These boys’ behavior is seen to be influenced by both external and internal forces of the environments.
Dave is one boy who struggles in proving himself as a mature man. On the other hand, Sarty has already grown to a grown man mentally. Unlike Dave who is hesitant in doing things like an adult, Sarty is proactive in proving his maturity, and this gives him more credit over Dave.
Looking at the two characters also, Dave was brought up in the family set up which does not recognize his abilities and gives and which takes him just as a child. Sarty’s parents acknowledge his, and this is depicted when his father calls him and advises him to stand by his family.
The life of Dave is depicted as one full of immaturity while Sarty’s life is brought out as one which identifies him as a mature boy. While Dave’s insight and motivation seem to originate from the external forces, Sarty’s motive appears to be more internal than it is an external one. Sarty’s responses are not influenced by the people around him, not even his parents. While the life of Dave is full of lies, Sarty tries by all means to enhance honesty, justice, peace, and dignity. Dave loses his dignity by lying to his mother about the gun and also for playing with the gun and killing Mr. Harri’s mule. On the other hand, Sarty can be credited for upholding dignity and honesty by failing to lie in court and also by protecting the society from damage by people including his father.
As the episodes of the story as in unravel, Sarty is portrayed as a person who stands for justice and for what he thinks is right. Although this may have dire repercussions since he is just ten, he is brave enough and ready to face any consequence of his decisions. On the other hand, Dave believes that the expression of maturity comes with power. He thinks that possession of a gun will help him earn respect from the people around him.
Although both Dave and Sarty often find themselves defiling their parents’ rules, Dave chooses to do the most stupid and humiliating act while Sarty runs to save the De Spain’s barn from being burnt down by his father. Dave wants to be recognized as a grown-up and mature boy, but he remains to do childish act, and this does not change the perception of people towards him. On the other hand, Sarty portrays himself as a mature child through his actions. He does not need to fight for his identity.
Dave’s actions are a weakness to him which is antagonistic with what he thinks. Sarty’s behavior, on the other hand, depicts his strength to become the man he wants to be.
In conclusion, one’s behavior or conduct defines the image people will have on them. Although many people try to fight for their identity, the identity of a person is solely dependent on the behavior or personality of that person, and this behavior is influenced by both external and internal environment of the named individual.
Franklin, Phyllis. “Sarty Snopes and” Barn Burning.” The Mississippi Quarterly 21.3 (1968): 189-193.
Shmoop Editorial Team. “Dave Saunders in The Man Who Was Almost a Man.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 25 Mar. 2019.