Will Varner

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Will Varner
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Varner, Will
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Will Varner appears or is mentioned in ten different texts, as "Uncle Billy" in the first two and as "Will" in all but one of the others (in "Centaur in Brass" he is the unnamed father of Flem Snopes' wife). In those first two - As I Lay Dying and "Spotted Horses" - he is a farmer and veterinarian who (in the absence of a real doctor) sets the broken legs of two different human critters. But in the other texts he makes a much more commanding figure as "the principal landowner" in Frenchman's Bend, to quote from his third text, "Lizards in Jamshyd's Courtyard" (136). The Hamlet provides the most impressive resume of his titles and traits: there he is a farmer, a landlord, a usurer, and a veterinarian, and serves as the "beat supervisor in one county and Justice of the Peace in the next and election commissioner in both" (5). He also owns at least most of the local businesses: the store, the cotton gin and the combined gristmill and blacksmith shop. He presides over his fiefdom from "a home-made chair on the jungle-choked lawn of the Old Frenchman’s home-site" (6). With his wife Maggie, he has produced sixteen children though only two of them, Jody and Eula, remain in Frenchman’s Bend; he also has the energy into his sixties to continue having affairs with the wives of various farmers who are his tenants. Even after Flem moves to Jefferson in the last two volumes of the Snopes trilogy, Will continues to play a significant role in his story, as Flem's father-in-law and, perhaps surprisingly, one of the principal investors in the Sartoris bank in town. Faulkner describes his physical appearance as resembling "a Methodist Sunday School Superintendent" (6). He is "thin as a fence rail" and "long," possessing "reddish-gray hair and moustaches and little hard bright innocently blue eyes" (6). He is just about as acquisitive and ruthless as Flem, but his lusts are portrayed as attractively human.