This article needs additional citations for verification. A hungry boy named Sarty craves the stew and bread barn burning main characters the store.
His father, Abner Snopes, is in court, accused of burning down Mr. Sarty is called up to testify against his father, and he knows he’s going to have to lie and say his father didn’t burn the barn. As Sarty leaves the courthouse, a kid calls him “Barn Burner! Sarty tries to chase the kid but his father stops him. Sarty, his older brother, and his father get into the family wagon, where his mother, aunt, and two sisters are waiting. The wagon is already loaded with their broken possessions. After Sarty falls asleep, his father wakes him up and tells Sarty to follow him.
The next day the Snopeses arrive at their new home, a shack on the farm where they will be working as tenant farmers. Abner wants to talk to the owner and he takes Sarty with him. When Sarty sees the owner’s fancy, white mansion he feels like everything just might be all right after all. He thinks his father can’t possibly hurt people who live in a house like that. On the way to the front door, Sarty notices that Abner deliberately steps in some fresh horse excrement. Later that day, the owner of the rug and mansion, Mr.
Spain, has the rug dropped off at Abner’s shack. Abner sets his two daughters to cleaning it, and then dries it in front of the fire. Early the next morning, Abner wakes Sarty and the two of them return the rug to de Spain. He tells Abner he’s going to charge him twenty extra bushels of corn to pay for the hundred-dollar rug. After working hard all week, Sarty goes with his family to town that Saturday.
He goes with his father into a store, and sees that a Justice of the Peace Court is in session. Sarty doesn’t realize that Abner is suing de Spain to have the fee of twenty bushels reduced. Sarty blurts out that his father isn’t guilty of burning any barns. Abner sends him back to the wagon, but he stays in the store to see what happens.
The Justice decides that Abner is responsible for the damage to the rug, but he reduces the fee to ten bushels. Sarty, his father, and his brother spend some time in town and don’t go home until the sun has almost set. After dinner, Sarty hears his mother trying to stop his father from doing something. He realizes his father is planning to burn the de Spain barn. Sarty breaks free and runs to the de Spain house.
He’s only able to say “Barn! De Spain is right behind him, about to run him over. Sarty jumps into a ditch and then returns to the road. He hears three gunshots soon after. At midnight Sarty is on top of a hill.