Yettie Snopes

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Yettie Snopes
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Snopes, Yettie
Ever Present in Yoknapatawpha?: 

Mink Snopes' wife - given a first name, Yettie, in The Mansion, the second and last fiction in which she appears - plays a small part in the large saga of the Yoknapatawpha Snopeses, but has a very powerful backstory, as it's described in The Hamlet. Mink met during his travels, when after seeing her "standing in the savage lamp-light . . . in the open door of the mess-hall in that south Mississippi convict camp" (243-44), he called a halt to his travels and took a job at the camp. Her mother died in giving birth to her. She grew up at the camp in "a tract of wildcatted virgin timber" with her father, owner of the camp, and his "quadroon" mistress (262). In her youth, she had "a splendid heavy mane" of "black hair" before cutting it "man-short with razors" in order to avoid getting lice from the convict-laborers with whom she had sex promiscuously; according to Mink, she was "not a nympholept but the confident lord of a harem" (262), her room being the "fierce simple cave of a lioness" (263). With the collapse of her father's business five months after Mink arrives, the two marry and return to Mink's native country to share crop and produce two children within the first five years of marriage. She shows no affection for Mink, but after he goes into hiding as a murderer, she tries to serve him - though perhaps by raising money through a return to prostitution. Mink is never sure the children they have are his. To this biography The Mansion adds the facts that Yettie "cant read and write neither" (55), and that she dies while Mink is serving his sentence at Parchman.