Frank Norris’ McTeague exhibits the ill effects of obsession with possession. Specifically, Norris’ characters McTeague, Marcus, and Trina all posses strong obsessions with certain possession. In regard to McTeague, one may describe him as being obsessed with two things throughout the novel; Trina, and towards the end, Trina’s gold. In regard to Trina, one may say she too was obsessed with gold. Similar to McTeague, Marcus shows strong feeling of obsession towards Trina at first, and towards the end, towards Trina’s gold.
Marcus, McTeague, and Trina each reach their fates as a direct result of their obsessions with possession. Likewise, each of their respective fates correlate in nature, that is, each dies a grotesque death. Trina is the first to go, being beaten to death by her husband, McTeague. Here, one witnesses the powerful nature of obsession. McTeague and Trina lose control of their humanity, acting in an animalistic fashion. Thus, as Trina could not give up her gold to McTeague he murdered her and took it for himself.
The next character to go is Marcus. Upon confronting McTeague in the desert a fight between the two breaks out, in which McTeague’s water supply is wasted. With no hope of survival, Marcus and McTeague begin to quarrel over Trina’s gold, which was useless to either man in the sweltering heat of the desert. McTeague murders Marcus, although before dying Marcus manages to hand-cuff himself to McTeague. Thus, McTeague condemns himself with the killing of Marcus.
Ironically, not one of Norris’ main characters remains alive. Each of these characters was obsessed with possession, thus, the fact that each dies without possession is ironic. Also, one may find irony in the attachment of McTeague and Marcus in death. Both men were obsessed with possessing Trina, and later Trina’s gold, yet, the only thing these two come to posses is one another, and the heat of the desert. Similarly, Trina’s obsession leads to her demise, and lack of any real possession. Thus, possession is lost through obsession, life is lost with loss of possession. Obsession is all that is left. The world goes on.