Many have criticized Norris' ending to McTeague as being overly melodramatic. William Dean Howells was among these. Read his essay "Frank Norris" originally published in the North American Review, 175, December 1902, 769-778. Read Norris' response in his letter to Howells (March 1899 (?)). This and other of Norris' letters can be found in Letters of Frank Norris edited by Franklin Walker, San Francisco:Book Club of California, 1956. Where do you stand in this debate.
Enter the discussion. Discuss the significance and appropriateness of the ending of McTeague. The scene has been criticized by many including Donald Pizer in The Novels of Frank Norris, Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1966.The desert scenes have been praised by others. See: Dahlberg, Edward. "Stephen Crane: American Genius." In The Leafless American. Ed. by Harold Billings. Sausalito, Ca.:Roger Beacham, 1967. 58-61. Dillingham, William B. Frank Norris Instinct and Art. Lincoln, Ne.: U. of Nebraska Press, 1969.Graham, Don. The Fiction of Frank Norris. Columbia, Mo.: U. of Missouri Press, 1978.
Locate Norris's allusions to animals and animal-like behavior in the novel. Analyze what he is trying to say about human nature, human motivation and character.
Read Jack London’s “The Law of Life” and discuss the deterministic concepts that story present. What elements of London’s naturalism are evident in the short story. Or do something similar with Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat.”
Find a poem in either the work of E. A. Robinson or Edgar Lee Masters that illustrates perhaps one of the emerging themes of modernism that we discussed in class and explicate the poem as a means of discussing this theme. See for example, Robinson’s “Mr. Flood’s Party” or Master’s “The Hill.”
Examine the image of the returning soldier in Hemingway's fiction. Take a look at some of the short stories in Hemingway's 1925 In Our Time for other examples of damaged soldiers returning home. Stories like "Soldier's Home, " and several of the Nick Adams stories deal with this image. It's also seen in his 1929 novel A Farewell to Arms. How does Hemingway use "the wound" as symbol and metaphor?
Feminists have often taken exception with Hemingway’s depiction of women. Examine the depiction of Brett particularly but also look at the lesser female characters and their depiction and weigh in on this hot topic debate.
As John Gray has pointed out in *Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus”, communication between men and women is always fraught with peril. Discuss the problems in communication between men and women, particularly.. Spend some time examining the communication between Brett and Jake. What is revealed? Discuss also communication in general in the novel.
In his article “The Death of Love in The Sun Also Rises,” critic Mark Spilka notes that the death of love was a common theme in the literature following World War I. He points out that Hemingway’s presentation is perhaps the most full-bodied. Discuss how this theme functions in the novel.
On a related issue, how does sexuality function in the novel?
Discuss the following passage from Arthur Waldhorn’s Ernest Hemingway: A Reader’s Guide: “As the characters wander purposelessly in their Parisian wasteland–their altar a bar, their grail a glass of absinthe–the boredom, hysteria and agony mirror the chaotic past of the war experience and the cynical or hedonistic masks that later disguise disfigured or mutilated dreams and illusions.” Do you agree with Waldhorn’s assessment? Show how this relates to at least two of the characters in the novel, specifically.
Analyze one of more of e.e. cummings poems and discuss the ways in which he satirizes American culture.
Find a topic that you feel passionately about and enter the debate.