THE MANY THEMES OF "HOW SHARP SNAFFLES GOT HIS CAPITAL AND WIFE " Romance, 'The Big Lie', humor, and Moral, "How Sharp Snaffles got his Capital and Wife" contains all of these in a wonderfully written story by William Gilmore Simms. Sit back and enjoy a "potation" (423) from a "corpulent barrel of Western usquebaugh " (422) while I argue my truths or is that 'Lie'. This romantic story is about the trails and tribulations Sam Snaffles endured to capture the affections of Mary Ann Hopson. Sam describes Mary Ann as ", and so all over beautiful! O Law! When I thinks of it and them times, I don't see how 'twas possible to think of buck-hunting when thar was sich a doe, with sich eyes shining me on!" (426) After Sam is denied Mary Ann's hand in marriage, because he has no capital, they meet in the forest outside of Mary Ann's home she tells Sam "I'll be true to you, Sam.
I loves nobody in all the world so much as I loves you" (434) Sam gets the capital needed to satisfy her father and marry his true love in the end. The Webster's definition of 'Big Lie' is "a deliberate gross distortion of the truth used especially as a propaganda tactic" and this is well illustrated in the story. The story opens at the end of a week of hunting and the group is sitting around the fire awaiting "The Lying Camp!" The main character Sam Snaffles is requested to tell the story of how he found 'Capital 's o he could marry his true love, Mary Ann Hopson. As Sam begins his story he is called down by the 'Big Lie's saying, "All you " ve been a-saying is jest nothing but the naked truth as I know it." (426) Sam's reply is "And how's a man to lie decently on less you lets him he a bit of truth to go upon? The truth's nothing but a peg in the wall that I hangs the lie upon." (426) Sam's story of how he got the 'capital' is amazing and just to show how big it grew, here's a description of the total capital Sam got, "From the b'ar... First, thar war the hide, $20; then 450 pounds of meat, at 10 cents, was $45; then the grease, 14 pounds, $14; and the tallow, some $6 more; and the bile d marrow, $11." The geese "2700 wild-geese, at 50 cents, you sees, must be more than $1350." The honey "got something over two thousand gallons of the purest, sweetest, yellowest honey you ever did see." Humor is located throughout this story. One of my favorite parts is when Mary Ann's father asked Sam's horse if Sam had any capital and the horse told Jeff Hopson, Mary Ann's father, "Look at me! I ha in't got an ounce of spar' flesh on my bones.
You can count all my ribs. You kin lay the whole length of your air betwixt any two on " em" (432) Later after Jeff Hopson has finished telling Sam how worthless he really is Sam went back outside to leave on his horse; "But, afore I mounted the beast, I gin him a dozen kicks in the ribs, jest for bearing his testimony a gin me." At the end is another good example of humor, Sam tells the group of hunters that he and his wife Mary Ann have been happy for thirteen years and have thirty-six children. This caused the Judge to tell Sam this was an obvious lie and Sam explained: But you " ve only got to do the ciphering for yourself. Here, now, Jedge, look at it. Count for yourself. First we had three gal children, you see.
Very well! Put down three. Then we had six boys, one every year for four years; and then, the fifth year, Merry Ann throw ed duce. Now put down the six boys a'ter the three gals, and you ef that don't make thirty-six, thar's no snakes in all Flurriday! (465) How Sharp Snaffles got his capital and wife has a moral to this story that's comes to you only at the end. You are so caught up in the outrageousness of the tale that you almost miss one of the oldest morals around 'never judge a book by its cover', observe the person for whom they really are and not what your eyes say you see. It begins when he was a young man and madly in love with Mary Ann Hopson. When Sam goes to Jeff Hopson, Mary Ann's father, to ask for her hand in marriage, Jeff tells Sharp "You may think, in your vanity, that you air a man; but you ain't, and never will be, on less you kin find a way to git capital; and I loves my gal child too much to let her marry any puss on whom I don't altogether consider a man!" (433) Heart broken Sam goes home and in a dream receives hope that he will find his capital and win the hand of Mary Ann.
Sam goes out and finds his capital. When Sam returned the mule and cart he had borrowed to collect all his capital, he asked about a farm Columbus Mills owned and asked to buy it. Mr. Mills sold the farm to Sam cheap then we learn something about Mary Ann's father, Jeff Hopson, You see, when I was a-trading with Columbus Mills about the fair and cattle and other things, I ups and tells him about my courting of Merry Ann; and when I tell ed him about Square Hopson's talk about 'capital,' he says: "'The old skunk! What right hes he to be talking big so, when he kain't pay his own debts. He's been owing me three hundred and fifty dollars now gwine on three years, and I kain't git even the interest out of him. I've got a mort age on his farm for the whole, and ef he won't let you he his da " ter, jest you come to me, and I'll clap the screws to him in short order.' (451) Sam brought the mortgage from Columbus Mills and made his plan to get his revenge.
Sam confronted Jeff Hopson with the mortgage and told him he was there to collect the money or throw Jeff Hopson's family out. Sam told him he was to be wed that night and he needed the farm for his new wife. Jeff wanted to know how Sam came to have this much money and Sam would not tell, only that he was to be married that night and he needed the farm. Sam then showed all the money he had to Jeff and reminded Jeff that he was to be married on that very night and needed an answer.
Jeff pleaded, saying if Sam had really loved his daughter, he would not kick them off their farm and how could he marry some else. Sam asked Jeff to stand and look in the mirror and asked him what he saw: that won't do. I tell you now, look good, and ax yourself ef you " re the saw of looking man that hes any right to be feather-in-law to a fine, young, handsome-looking fellow like me, what's got the "capital?" Then he laughed out at the humor of the situation; and he says, 'Well, Sam Snaffles, you " ve got me dead this time. You " re a different man from what I thought you. But, Sam, you " ll confess, I reckon, that ef I hadn't sent you off with a flea in your ear when I hed you up afore the looking-glass, you'd never ha' gone to work to git the "capital." (461) This is a humorous story that tells of romance and gives us a lesson in life and full of honesty (lies).
This merging of all these themes has created a wonderful story that will make me read more of William Gilmore Simms stories. I wonder what Bald Head Billy Baldly did during the Flurriday War? Work Cited Simms, William Gilmore. "How Sharp Snaffles got his Capital and Wife." The Writings of William Gilmore Simms Vol V Stories and Tales. Columbia, SC: Guilds, John C. 1 st ed. University South Carolina Press, 1974..