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Snopes Family


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Characters in Faulkner's fiction, figuring most prominently in the trilogy, The Hamlet, The Town, and The Mansion, but appearing also in The Un-vanquished, Sartoris, and As I Lay Dying. Their origins obscure, they are “just Snopeses, like colonies of rats or termites are just rats and termites.” They emerge from the Yoknapatawpha country, entrench themselves in Frenchman's Bend and later in the county seat, Jefferson, and finally replace, largely in the person of Flem Snopes, the old order as represented by the Sartoris and Compson families. Abner (Ab) Snopes, who settles as a sharecropper on Will Varner's land in Frenchman's Bend in the 1890s, a bitter man with a reputation for sharp horse trading and barn burning, is the most successful family member of his generation. His son Flem continues his father's rapacity and corruption, surpassing his cousins: Mink, who is imprisoned for murder; Ike, an idiot who falls in love with a cow; Wesley, tarred and feathered for his relations with a young girl; I.O., a bigamist; Launcelot (Lump), who sells tickets to view Ike's perverted relations with the cow; and Eckrum (Eck), atypically honest, but who blows himself to bits in an explosion. Flem is also more successful in his rapacious progress toward power and seeming respectability than is the next generation, which includes Wesley's son Byron, who absconds with a little money from a bank, marries an Apache squaw, and “mails” their four children back to Flem; I.O.'s sons, including Montgomery Ward, who makes money from pornographic pictures and bootlegging, the twins Bilbo and Vardaman, and Clarence, a venal state senator; and Eckrum's sons, Admiral Dewey and Wallstreet Panic, the latter as honest and therefore as unlike a Snopes as his father. Although Flem succeeds beyond any other Snopes, becoming president of the Sartoris bank, the owner of the De Spain mansion, and the possessor of wealth, it is Linda, his wife's daughter by another man, a Snopes in name only, who brings him down to death. In revenge for his treatment of her, which included obtaining her inheritance and driving her mother, Eula Varner Snopes, to suicide, Linda persuades Gavin Stevens to obtain a pardon for Mink. Suffering from the hardships of 38 years in prison, attributing his long sentence to Flem's initial failure to help him, and knowing that it was extended by a plot which Flem engineered, Mink comes to Flem's home and shoots him dead.

Subjects: Literature.


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