I.O. Snopes

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I.O. Snopes
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Snopes, I.O.
Ever Present in Yoknapatawpha?: 

I.O. Snopes' career as a character begins with the first Yoknapatawpha fiction, Flags in the Dust, and after six more appearances ends three decades later in The Mansion. In those eight texts his various jobs include restaurant manager, cotton speculator, mule trader, blacksmith and schoolteacher. In all of these contexts he is both comically out of place and nonetheless vaguely alarming - and impossible to get into a single focus, as Faulkner re-invents him more than once. He begins as a minor figure in three of the first four novels and an early short story, but is a central character as the unscrupulous mule trader in "Mule in the Yard," willing to sacrifice both mules and Mrs. Hait's husband in his efforts to scam the insurance company. And he is one of the most memorable of the many Snopeses in the first two novels in the Snopes trilogy. In The Hamlet it surprises the people of Frenchman's Bend when he turns out to have a wife and child; in The Town folks are even more surprised to learn that he has two wives at the same time, and six children altogether. He exasperates Ratliff and Stevens in their roles as narrators and moral spokesmen in the trilogy, but Faulkner actually seems fond of him, especially of his ability to mangle the English language and its stock of proverbial expressions. In The Mansion he appears mostly in Montgomery Ward Snopes' chapter, which refers several times to "mine and Clarence's father I.O." (97); Ratliff provides a kind of closure to his story when he says that "four years ago Flem had cidevanted I.O. back to Frenchman's Bend for good" (169-70). The fictions never say what I.O. stands for, but some scholars have suggested it's "Initials Only."