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The Hamlet—published in 1940—is the first of Faulkner's three novels that follow the fictional Snopes family from Mississippi (the others include The Town and The Mansion). The Snopes family is full of people somewhat akin to anti-heroes. There are dishonest opportunists, thieves, and mentally retarded members. The family's patriarch Flem Snopes is an unscrupulous farmer who comes to Frenchman's Bend, Mississippi. He seeks to acquire property by any mean necessary—with no qualms about being deceptive. In the course of the novel, he marries the local beauty, Eula Varner, who becomes pregnant by one of several possible suitors. Flem sees this as an opportunity to establish connections with a wealthy man.

Important quotations include:

"When Flem Snopes came to clerk in her father's store, Eula Varner was not quite thirteen. She was the last of sixteen children...she was already bigger than most grown women and even her breasts were no longer little, hard, fiercely-pointed cones of puberty of even maidenhood. On the contrary, her entire appearance suggested some sym-bology out of the old Dionysic times--honey in sunlight and bursting grapes, the writhen bleeding of the crushed fecundated vine beneath the hard rapacious trampling goat-hoof. She seemed to be not a living integer of her contemporary scene, but rather to exist in a teeming vacuum, hi which her days followed one another as though behind sound-proof glass, where she seemed to listen in sullen bemusement, with a weary wisdom heired of all mammalian maturity, to the enlarging of her own organs" (54).

This clever and poetic description introduces the novel's "damsel in distress," and, though Flem is at this point...

(The entire section is 418 words.)