September 6, 2012
Conflicts at the de Spain Mansion
When Sarty sees the de Spain mansion, he thinks it stands for “peace and dignity” (506). The mansion is hope for Sarty and he thinks its whiteness and wealth will soften his father and make him forget all about the burning barns. However, the house means something entirely different to Abner .He makes this quit clear when he deliberately steps in horse droppings and proceeds to the front door of the mansion, and ignores the servant’s commands to wipe his feet before entering. With his soiled boot he tracks it across the white rug that lies at the front door, leaving the rug soiled with his tracks. As he began to head back towards home he makes a comment to Sarty about the mansion, “That’s sweat. Nigger sweat. Maybe it ain’t white enough yet to suit him. Maybe he wants to mix some white sweat with it” (507). His comment ultimately set the attitude and conflict of the story.
The shocking act of smearing the rug with excrement eventually leads to the rug’s complete destruction, which then leads to another court hearing, and another act of revenge. For having his rug destroyed Mr. de Spain seeks payment of a hundred dollars but knowing Abner’s living conditions he made an agreement in which he asked for twenty bushels of corn. Abner’s destruction is a swipe at the financial security that the de Spain has and that Abner lacks, as well as a clear statement of his unhappiness at being the subservient to de Spain for his livelihood. Extending his criminal reach to the rug signals that Abner’s resentment now encompasses the domestic sphere as well. The expensive rug represents for Abner every comfort, opportunity, and privilege he feels he has been unfairly denied, and in destroying it he renounces all regard for his life and his family’s future.
The visit to the de Spain mansion sets the complication of the story which helps tie in the climax of the barn burning. Abner wanted...