Maggie Varner

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Maggie Varner
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Varner, Maggie
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Mrs. Will Varner, Maggie Varner in The Hamlet, figures in four of the fictions (compared to her husband's ten). She is mentioned in As I Lay Dying as the unnamed wife of "Uncle Billy," as Will is called there, specifically in connection with the birth of her first child, Jody. The next time she is appears, in The Hamlet, she is the mother of sixteen children, eleven of whom still live, though only two of them are important in the novel: Jody and his sister Eula. The narrator of that novel calls her a "plump cheery bustling woman who had borne sixteen children and already outlived five of them and who still won prizes for preserving fruits and vegetables at the annual county fair" (11-12); she raises a commotion when it's discovered that Eula is pregnant. In The Town Gavin Stevens, one of the novel's narrators, describes "Mrs. Varner" as a "big hard cold gray woman who never came to town anymore now, spending all her time between her home and her church" (306). As Varner's wife she has complete control over the "terrified congregation" in the church: she hires the ministers herself, "firing them too when they didn't suit her" (306). Gavin portrays her as outraged to learn about Eula's 18-year-long affair with Manfred de Spain, though Eula tells Gavin later that she thinks her "Mamma . . . has known all the time" (345). In the last volume of the Snopes trilogy, The Mansion, Mrs. Varner and her sense of propriety are manipulated by her son-in-law, Flem Snopes, as a crucial part of his scheme to become president of the bank in Jefferson.