Mcteague Reaction Paper

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Naturalism on One Character (Trina) Reaction Paper

November 21, 2008

Although numerous evidences of naturalism are portrayed for nearly every main character in Frank Norris’ novel McTeague, Trina Sieppe is one character in whom the idea of naturalism is most effectively expressed through. Two aspects of naturalism that go hand in hand are the environment and heredity. Both of these aspects had deep influences on Trina and her actions and behavior toward money, her husband McTeague, and even Trina herself.

At the beginning of the novel, when Trina was introduced, Norris did not really hint at or foreshadow her excessive stinginess, which was expressed more towards the middle and end. Trina’s first introduction was simply as the cousin of Marcus, which really implied nothing about her character (13). However, upon the departure of Trina’s family after marrying McTeague, as well as after her winning of the lottery with a prize of five thousand dollars, her miserliness all of a sudden exploded as she attempted to make up the missing love of her family with the love of money. When Trina married McTeague, she was left in a vulnerable position, all alone. She even acknowledges her aloneness when she says, “…you must be good to me – for you’re all that I have in the world now” (142). Norris showed Trina’s stinginess was a result of genetics and heredity as he explained that “A good deal of peasant blood still ran undiluted in her veins, and she had all the instinct of a hardy and penurious mountain race – the instinct which saves without thought…saving for the sake of saving” (134).

Back in the 1890s, the time frame in which the novel took place, women were considered subservient to men on all levels. Whatever women owned, belonged entirely to their husbands. Trina, feeling defenseless and powerless upon marrying McTeague and homesick with the absence of her family, perhaps felt that she had lost control of her life completely. For this reason,...
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