Hochman's essay is a discussion on a common theme in all of the characters within Norris's McTeague. The article points out that each character starts out as an everyday member of society, yet is driven out of this by change in their lives. The change leads to discomfort and a development of certain habits, and further down the road it develops into something of a mania, especially in the case of the main character Mac. The original change in the lives of these characters isn't always life threatening really, but often it unsettles these simple citizens. In this upset, rather than dealing with the issue which is bothering them they return to a habit, such as drinking steamed beer in Mac's case or telling a story in Maria's case. Inevitably the habit they return to is only a temporary reprieve, and they must continue to increase the behavior in order to block out their growing concerns. To simplify it, this essay is about the many coping mechanisms used by the characters of McTeague, and the folly of the character's retreat from their problems.
This article was actually highly informative to me and shed a great deal of light on some of the activities of the characters. It added an element of cohesion to the many characters plots developments. Furthermore, after reading this article McTeague became much less of a Shakespearean tragedy and more of an examination of human nature, as naturalism is supposed to be. This also lends credibility to the novel as a whole. The article was thorough, and backed every point it made well with examples from most of the major characters as well as some minor ones.