Byron Snopes

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Byron Snopes
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Snopes, Byron
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Although Flem, Montgomery Ward, I.O. and Clarence are mentioned in Flags in the Dust, in that first Yoknapatawpha fiction Byron is the first Snopes whom Faulkner develops into a character. Many Snopeses are named for famous men or products in American culture (vide "Montgomery Ward"). 'Byron Societies' were bourgeois reading groups in the U.S. about the time Byron Snopes would have been born - there is even a "Byron Club" in Jefferson in The Town (325) - but it's hard to imagine Byron's parents (revealed in the Snopes trilogy to be I.O. and his second wife) knew who Lord Byron was. On the other hand, Faulkner expects his readers to appreciate the irony: Lord Byron wrote Romantic poetry; Byron Snopes writes anonymous mash notes to Narcissa Benbow that are absurd rather than erotic. Those letters play a major role in "There Was a Queen," where Byron is not named but referred to as "that book-keeper in Colonel Sartoris' bank" and "the man who robbed the bank" (739, 740). That position and the way he abuses it - stealing what 'Sartoris' represents - is Faulkner's symbolic representation of how the Snopeses as a group threaten the social order. In Flags the idea that a Snopes could aspire to the hand of a Benbow (like the Sartorises another old Yoknapatawpha family) is ominous enough. In the last two texts that mention him (in The Town andThe Mansion) Byron remains offstage, but the biracial (Faulkner would have said miscegenated) children he has with an Apache woman return to Yoknapatawpha as a kind of plague. In the end, though, these kids are banished, just as in the beginning, in Flags, Bryon winds up running away from Yoknapatawpha.