Diction In Mcteague

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In the 1899 novel McTeague by Frank Norris, the author presents a strong opinion about McTeague through diction, tone, detail, and syntax. McTeague is introduced as a “young giant . . . six feet three inches . . . [wth] immense limbs, heavy with ropes of muscle . . . the jaw salient, like that of the carnivora.” Here, Norris’ use of diction paints an intimidating picture of McTeague, similar to that of a lumbering bear, “[y]et there was nothing vicious about the man.” We learn that even his “mind was as his body, heavy, slow to act, sluggish.” Despite an dramatic visualization, Norris’ tone indicates a lack of interest or belief in McTeague. Norris begins by mentioning that McTeague’s “had left him some money,” but immediately emphasizes…show more content…
For instance, we learn that McTeague works in a small building and “made it do for a bedroom as well, sleeping on the big bed-lounge against the wall opposite the window.” This small detail hints at a poor, struggling lifestyle. Additionally, Norris notes McTeague “manufactured his moulds . . . [on] a washstand behind the screen in the corner” and collected “[t]here chairs, a bargain at the second-hand store” which further embellishes the idea of a low-class citizen. However, an interesting detail is noted when Norris writes that McTeague “ranged [the chairs] against the wall with military precision underneath a steel engraving of the court of Lorenzo de’ Medici.” At first, this seems to be an irreverent detail that suggests McTeague was perhaps interested in the deceased statesman and his previous affairs. Upon further inspection of this detail, it is noted that McTeague purchased this piece of art “because where were a great many figures in it for the money.” There was also a “rifle manufacturer’s advertisement which he never used.” Norris mentions these two minor details to reveal that McTeague decorated his office with seemingly interesting and unique objects, particularly impressive for their historical and “masculine” appeals. Regardless, they hold no special place in the heart of McTeague. The colossal dentist is content with his simple life, except for “his ambition, his dream, to have projecting from that corner window a huge glided tooth, a molar with enormous prongs, something gorgeous and attractive.” This symbolizes that McTeague longs for people to see him as they would see the sign: appealing and interesting, even if he appears as his office—plain and simple. He hopes to impress his customers and acquaints with compelling hobbies and displays to emerge as a compelling

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