Greed in the Form of Inherited Racial Qualities in Mcteague

Topics: Frank Norris, McTeague, Erich von Stroheim Pages: 3 (1160 words) Published: May 20, 2012
Greed in the Form of Inherited Racial Qualities in McTeague

In Mcteague, Frank Norris depicts the lives of working class, mostly non Anglo Saxon, residents living in a San Francisco apartment complex. Norris characterizes most of these residents by their uncontrollable avarice though strays from presenting them as the stereotypical gilded age Americans, a common literary theme at this point in the late 18th century, obsessed with the glamour provided by wealth. Instead, Norris presents their need for gold as inherit racial flaws, flaws that results in their ultimate demise. The character’s de evolution and loss of morality throughout Mcteague can be gauged by their progressive need for more and more wealth. Norris’ depiction of the character’s unyielding hunger for wealth is reminiscent of the naturalist movement because the characters’ savage like desire for money overcomes even their most basic human nature. In the beginning of the novel Trina is an innocent and loyal daughter, “so small, so prettily made, so good natured and straightforward”(Norris 40.) Trina’s measured de evolution only begins after she wins the lottery, and her miserly instincts begin to take root upon her nature. Trina’s relationship to the money is unhealthy and acts as a deterrent against her innocent and strait forward manner, Norris comments “She clung to this sum with a tenacity that was surprising; it had become for her a thing miraculous, a god-from-the-machine, suddenly descending upon the stage of her humble little life; she regarded it as something almost sacred and inviolable”(121). Norris’ allusion to God in reference to Trina’s devotion to the money is significant because it reveals her relationship to wealth as a subservient one. Trina’s loyalty to her family is even encumbered by her desire to hoard money. When her mother asks Trina for fifty dollars to help their family during hard times, Trina continuously postpones sending the money until she resolves to not do it at...
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