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Comments for McTeague
Frank Norris's 1899 novel, McTeague: A Story of San Francisco was the inspiration for the Erich von Stroheim film Greed. Greed is probably best known for being the film that was nine hours long until the studio forced Stroheim to edit it down to something manageable (either 2 hours or 4 hours; there are two extant versions). I used to think that the 9 hour version must have been wonderful before it was butchered but now I'm not so sure having read the book that inspired the film.
McTeague is a book filled with fundamentally broken characters who have little or no redeeming qualities. The one vice they all seem to share is (surprise!) greed. Their ideal little world begins to fall apart just as everything appears to be going well at the winning of the lottery and a prize of five thousand dollars.
The greed theme is laid on too thick throughout the book. McTeague wants to live off his wife's winnings rather than work. Trina fears losing their nest egg and turns miserly. Old time friend Marcus covets both the money and Trina (Mrs. McTeague).
Since so much time and energy is spent on this one theme, little is left for character development. McTeague remains a dull, lazy, stupid and somewhat infantile character. He somehow transforms from gentle and bashful giant to a violent drunk. Meanwhile Trina devolves from being an industrious (albeit somewhat dishonest) toy maker to a wretch who does nothing but count her hidden earnings. The only reason given for these sudden changes of character is money and that alone isn't enough to carry a book through twenty-two chapters.
When we picked up Sean today, a large bag of fowl smelling clothes was hanging on his peg. It's been almost a year since I've had to take home a bag like this and I could believe for a moment that he'd had an accident.
We asked Sean what had happened. We couldn't see him but he explained as he was picking up his toys that the "potty had come unplugged." That didn't sound good, I thought.
One of the teachers brought Sean around where we could see that he was dressed in borrowed clothes and was barefoot. Apparently the bathroom toilets had gotten clogged and had overflowed (or worse from the sound of things) while Sean was in the bathroom. He got the worst of it and had to be completely changed out of his clothes. He was sent home in a set of spare clothes Sithy keeps on hand and was wearing a pull-up diaper because even his underwear was soaked.
As it was dropping into the 40s outside, Ian carried him to the car and the into the house when we got home. Harriet and I carried his bag of nasty smelling clothes and his owl backpack which had his nap time sheet. While Ian bathed Sean, Harriet and I got the laundry started. All I can say is eeeeeewwwww!
Sean had cleaned up really well at school but he was understandably feeling really grossed out by the experience. The laundry was also pretty clean too but it still was wet and smelly, though not as bad as it could have been. Remarkably though, Sean maintained his sense of humor through all of this (far better than I would have).