Thursday, March 25, 2010

Norris Does Not Believe in Love?

Norris seems to be implying that it is not possible for a man and a woman to love each other in the fullest at the same time. That is, a man can love a woman and vice versa to the fullest, but these states will occur at different intervals of the relationship. During this period in literature it is common to see the man see the woman and shortly after fall in love with that which they cannot have. Women are a little more reserved as they are not allowed to choose who courts them. This is one of the reasons that women are not as infatuated with men as early as men are with women. Early in the relationship the man has seen and decided that a certain girl was for them, and then they begin to desire whatever the women withholds from them. McTeague’s love stemmed from this very trait. He desired to hold and kiss Trina while she refused. Once Mac was able to acquire this from her his love slowly dimmed. That is, as he fed the beast inside the beast began to require more and more, and Trina had less and less to give up. While this was going on Trina’s love was just blossoming. Her love requires her to submit those which Mac required. As he submits more and more to him her love for him grows. It seems that Norris is suggesting that on the natural time and growth table of love man and woman will never reach the peak together. During their second kiss Norris notes that this point was the happiest that either would ever be. I believe that this point is the midpoint where Mac’s love on the downfall and Trina’s on the rise were the closest that they would get to one another before again spreading out. I have to say I don’t know much about that time and how men felt but in today’s day in age I believe those few marriages that last only grow with the time.


  1. Well I would expect Norris to take on some sort of animal/nature perspective in love and it seems he does just that. For him it seems that love is not so much an emotion as it is a desire for something unattainable. McTeague longs for Trina because he can't have her, because she rejects his proposal. Trina longs for money because McTeague doesn't have any to offer her. McTeague longs for expensive tobacco and bottled beer because Trina won't let him have any. Then he longs for control over his relationship and his life because he doesn't have any. Perhaps Trina begins to love submission to McTeague because she knows that he is actually dependent on her for money, among other things. So the stage in their relationship that looks the most unhealthy is actually the point at which they want/need each other most. Just before this heightened level of longing they both talk about leaving each other, Trina threatens to move into the apartment without him while McTeague threatens to not tolerate her money hoarding or control over their relationship any longer. Perhaps Norris is suggesting that naturalist love is really just interdependence, which can often appear strange and unhealthy from the observer, but to the humans or animals involved it's what they need to get by.

  2. In essence, I think most naturalist would view love as an illusion caused by a combination of impulsiveness and physical lust. Personally, I would disagree, but it seems part of naturalism is attempt to deconstruct human nature into instinctive impulses shaped by experience. Our experiences don't change these impulses, only teach us how to mask them, so universal experiences such as love are clearly based in some primitive mindset. Again, I disagree, but that seems to be part of Norris's thinking, at least.

  3. I'd agree with you and with both commenters, Dane; Norris sees love as a physical force that can't be controlled. It's more of a battle or tug of war in which one gains ground as the other loses it, as your post implies.