Flem Snopes

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Flem Snopes
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Snopes, Flem
Poor White
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Sales and Service
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The central character throughout the Snopes trilogy, which traces Flem's rise from poor white to bank president; the first stage of that narrative, which takes him from a share cropper's cabin in the county toward his newly acquired property in the town of Jefferson, organizes The Hamlet. Flem is shrewd and rapacious. The oldest child of Ab and Lennie Snopes, he gets himself hired as a store clerk by Jody Varner as “fire insurance” (28) against Ab’s propensity to burn the barns of his landlords. "A thick squat soft man of no establishable age between twenty and thirty," Flem has "a broad still face containing a tight seam of mouth stained slightly at the corners with tobacco," and "eyes the color of stagnant water, and projecting from among the other features in startling and sudden paradox, a tiny predatory nose like the beak of a small hawk" (24). "It was as though the original nose had been left off by the original designer or craftsman and the unfinished job taken over by someone of a radically different school or perhaps by some viciously maniacal humorist or perhaps by one who had had only time to clap into the center of the face a frantic and desperate warning" (56-57). When he becomes a clerk, Flem attempts to dress the part, donning a clumsily hand-made white shirt, replacing it each week with another just like it (19, 24); he also wears a cloth cap, and affects a "minute" machine-made bow tie (93, 300, 323). Once he begins to establish himself with - and increasingly at the expense of - Jody Varner, Flem begins to bring in some of his "cousins" to fill various positions in the Varner enterprise. He agrees to marry Eula Varner, who is pregnant by a suitor who has deserted her, and takes the Old Frenchman's Place as her dowry. He then tricks Ratliff and two others into buying the property from him and goes on to Jefferson.

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