Frank Norris: McTeague

(1036 words)
  • Jude Davies (University of Winchester)

The life of McTeague the dentist revolves around three objects: a canary he keeps in a cage and carries everywhere, a concertina upon which he can play “some half-dozen very mournful airs”, and an enormous gold-plated molar, that he dreams of installing as a sign outside the shop. This begins to change when he falls in love with Trina Sieppe, the cousin – and “girl” – of his best friend Marcus Schouler:

This poor crude dentist of Polk Street, stupid, ignorant, vulgar, with his sham education and plebeian tastes, whose only relaxations were to eat, to drink steam beer, and to play upon his concertina, was living through his first romance, his first idyl.

As Norris's …

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Davies, Jude. "McTeague". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 October 2001
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]