Linda Snopes Kohl

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Linda Snopes Kohl
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Kohl, Linda Snopes
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Linda's character comes into focus slowly but steadily across three decades and six fictions. In the first of those, Flags in the Dust, as Flem Snopes' "baby" she is not named nor even gendered. In the next, she still has no name or gender but Suratt, the narrator of "Spotted Horses," sees her clearly enough to call her "as well-growed a three-months-old baby as we ever see" (167) - implicitly suggesting she was conceived out of wedlock, and that Flem might not be her father. She is mentioned (as "well-grown") but not seen in "Centaur in Brass," but there the reference to her mother's "sudden marriage" repeats the idea of her illegitimacy. That idea is confirmed in The Hamlet, along with the fact that her biological father is not Flem but a man named Hoake McCarron, to whom her mother Eula lost her virginity but who left Yoknapatawpha when the pregnancy was discovered; Linda herself, however, is not given a name until the next novel in the Snopes trilogy, The Town. There her character remains subordinate to her mother's tragedy, but her possible future is an important part of the story. She is courted by the young men of Jefferson, and informally but persistently tutored by Gavin Stevens, who is determined to save her from her false position as Flem Snopes' daughter. Before her death Eula makes Gavin Stevens promise to marry Linda, but in the event Gavin chooses instead to send her to Greenwich Village, which he calls "a place with a few unimportant boundaries but no limitations where young people of any age go to seek dreams" (367). The trilogy's last volume, The Mansion, keeps her offstage until Gavin travels north to witness her wedding to a sculptor named Barton Kohl, but it ultimately becomes clear that Linda will escape the destiny that her past seemed to predict. When she returns to Yoknapatawpha in the second half of the novel, a deaf but undaunted widow who has served with her husband on the right (though losing) side of the Spanish Civil War, she takes up the cause of civil rights in Yoknapatawpha. She is defeated there too, but she remains in control of her own destiny, driving off to the future she will choose for herself in a brand new Jaguar - after subtlely but clearly getting vengeance for her mother by acting as an accomplice in Flem's murder. She is tough, generous, sexually secure, one of the most independent, experienced characters - male or female - in the canon.