Page Links: | Primary Works | Selected Bibliography 2000-Present | Study Questions | MLA Style Citation of this Web Page |

Source: Penn Manuscripts 

Like Crane, Frank Norris had a short life but it was rich in creative writing. The overriding theme in Norris' fiction is the impact of industrialization on peaceful agricultural communities and the consequent chaos in the lives of people who lived in these communities. His most glaring metaphor is that of the tentacles of the railway tracks spreading and choking the countryside in the appropriately titled book The Octopus. The spirit of the turn-of-the-century San Francisco is impressively captured in McTeague. Its theme, that of a powerful man failing against unexpected adversity, typifies the thrust of the best of Naturalistic writing.

Primary Works

Yvernelle, 1892; Moran of Lady Letty, 1898; Blix, 1899; A Man's Woman, 1899; McTeague, 1899; The Octopus, 1901; The Pit, 1903; A Deal in Wheat, 1903; Responsibilities of the Novelist, 1903; The Joyous Miracle, 1906; Vandover and the Brute, 1914.

| Top | Selected Bibliography 2000-Present

Bender, Bert. Evolution and "the Sex Problem": American Narratives during the Eclipse of Darwinism. Kent: Kent State UP, 2004.

Castronovo, Russ. Beautiful Democracy: Aesthetics and Anarchy in a Global Era. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2007.

Freitag, Florian. The Farm Novel in North America: Genre and Nation in the United States, English Canada, and French Canada, 1845-1945. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2013.

Hoeller, Hildegard. From Gift to Commodity: Capitalism and Sacrifice in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction. Durham: U of New Hampshire P, 2012.

Lewis, Nathaniel. Unsettling the Literary West: Authenticity and Authorship. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2003.

Lye, Colleen. America's Asia: Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2005.

McElrath, Joseph R. Jr., and Jesse S. Crisler. Frank Norris: A Life. Champaign: U of Illinois P, 2006

Pizer, Donald. American Naturalism and the Jews: Garland, Norris, Dreiser, Wharton, and Cather. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2008.

Sawaya, Francesca. Modern Women, Modern Work: Domesticity, Professionalism, and American Writing, 1890-1950. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 2003.

Zimmerman, David A. Panic!: Markets, Crises, and Crowds in American Fiction. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2006.

Study Questions

1. Locate Norris's allusions to animals and animal-like behavior in the excerpt from Vandover and the Brute. Analyze what he is trying to say about human motivation and character.

2. Compare and contrast the correspondent from Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat " with Norris's Vandover. Analyze the prose style, thematic content, use of narrative point of view, and portrait of human nature that these works convey.

MLA Style Citation of this Web Page

Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 6: Frank Norris." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. URL: (provide page date or date of your login). 

| Top |