Novel by Faulkner, published in 1931, the first of a trilogy including The Town and The Mansion.
In the 1890s, Will Varner, the mild-mannered economic power of Frenchman's Bend, Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, rents some land to Ab Snopes, whose grotesque, ruthlessly greedy son Flem is installed by the 30-year-old Varner heir Jody as a clerk in the Varner store to dissuade Ab from burning the barn, his usual way with landlords. Instead, Flem takes over Varner positions, property, and power as his relatives, including the shrewd, weasly I.O., the idiot Ike, and the primitive Mink, begin to dominate or demoralize the town. When Varner's daughter Eula, a mindless, sensual female, becomes pregnant, she is married off to Flem in return for cash and the deed to the crumbling pre-Civil War mansion, Frenchman's Place. A different passion overwhelms Ike, who falls in love with a cow, and their daily relationship is made another subject of profit as Lump Snopes sells secret viewing places of the encounters. Flem mulcts the townspeople by inducing them to buy Frenchman's Place as the site of buried treasure on the basis of some gold he had salted there, another example of the way in which the whole community is bilked and corrupted by the Snopeses.