Intelligent White Trash in the Snopes Trilogy

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Intelligent White Trash in the Snopes Trilogy

William Faulkner's three novels referred to as the Snopes Trilogy submerge the reader into the deepest, darkest realms of the human mind. The depth of these novels caused the immediate dismissal of any preconceived notions I had toward Faulkner and his writings. No longer did his novels seem to be simple stories describing the white trash, living in the artificial Yoknapatawpha County, of the deep South. The seemingly redneck, simple-minded characters of the Snopes family, when examined closely, reveal all the greed, guile, and brilliance in the human heart and mind. The means by which the Snopes family lives, the means by which it survives, causes the reader to contemplate the boundary between survival and stealing, between necessity and evil. Is it wrong for a greedy person to manipulate another greedy person, using his or her own greed against them? Can evil swallow itself up, consuming an evil person by means of another evil person? The Snopes Trilogy reveals the consuming effect of deceit combined with ambition and displays the genius of the human mind despite an outward disposition that seemingly denies any intelligence at all.

Flem Snopes intrigued me from the very onset of the Trilogy in The Hamlet. His simple appearance, slow, methodical movements, and lack of speech only added to his mystery and intensity. Flem's exterior also fooled Jody Varner, who said, "His face was as blank as a pan of uncooked dough" (22). Little did he know that later Flem would supercede him in his own store, causing Varner's plan to keep the Snopeses from burning his barns to blow up in his own face. Flem's outward appearance is possibly his most valuable survival gift. His uncouth facade c...

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...ses others as a means of survival. Being a Snopes, he has been raised to succeed with evil. It is the only means he knows. Flem either has no idea that he is destroying others, or he has been taught not to care. Flem has been hardened; he does not even see the evil in his actions. Obviously Flem has no remorse whatsoever in his sinful actions or destruction of others. To him, he is merely surviving. Faulkner adds another question to today's morality. Is a person guilty if they do not know that they are sinning? Flem never thinks twice, never hesitates, never regrets any of his actions. So how does he cope with his conscience? He doesn't. He does not realize that what he is doing is wrong; therefore, he feels no guilt. Flem lives, survives, and prospers the only way he knows how.

Works Cited:

Faulkner, William. The Snopes Trilogy. New York: Random House, 1957.

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