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Novel by Frank Norris, published in 1899.

McTeague, a strong but stupid San Francisco dentist, marries Trina Sieppe, having met her through Marcus Schouler, her cousin and his friend. Trina wins $5000 in a lottery, and by careful saving, investment, and shrewd deception increases the sum. Schouler, who formerly hoped to marry Trina, feels he has been cheated of this fortune. In revenge he exposes McTeague's lack of either diploma or license, so that, forbidden to practice, he becomes mean and surly. Trina, grown miserly, refuses to let him use her money, and they sink into poverty. Greed, the motive underlying these events, also dominates the two figures of the subplot, Maria Macapa, a mad charwoman, and Zerkow, a Jewish junk dealer; fascinated by her obsession with a set of gold plate, he marries her, becomes insane, kills her, and commits suicide. Meanwhile McTeague has deserted Trina, stealing some of her savings. In an attempt to obtain the remainder, he murders her. Fleeing, he tries to cross Death Valley, where he is apprehended by Schouler. McTeague kills his captor, but before he dies the latter manages to handcuff their wrists together, so that McTeague is doomed to die of thirst, locked to the body of his enemy.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Frank Norris (1870—1902)

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