Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School



Although Frank Norris is considered, along with London, Crane and Dreiser, as a principal voice in the American naturalistic movement, a close examination of his canon reveals that he abandoned his naturalistic stance after early experiments in determinism and lapsed into a romantic sentiment which joined a belief in chance to the assertion of free will as the means for determining human destiny. I assert that Norris progressed from the deterministic naturalism of Vandover and the Brute and McTeague; through Blix, Moran of the Lady Letty, and A Man's Woman, all of which reflect to some degree the sentimental novel form; to a less deterministic American naturalism in the two finished novels of the Trilogy of the Wheat, The Octopus and The Pit. An examination of the texts and Norris's literary philosophy reveals his reconsideration of scientific determinism (as professed by the French naturalist Zola) and his development of a truly American naturalism.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Norris, Frank, 1870-1902 -- Criticism and interpretation Naturalism in literature American fiction -- 19th century -- History and criticism American fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University