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date: 20 September 2019

Pit, The: A Story of Chicago, 

The Concise Oxford Companion to American Literature

James D. Hart

novel by Frank Norris, posthumously published in 1903 as the second part of his “Epic of the Wheat.”Laura Dearborn comes to Chicago from Massachusetts to live with her Aunt Wess’ and her younger sister Page; She soon attracts three suitors: Sheldon Corthell, wealthy artist and dilettante; Landry Court, a young stockbroker who later marries Page; and Curtis Jadwin, a powerful, virile capitalist, who is lonely despite his wealth and position. She is won by Jadwin’s honesty and simplicity, although she does not respond fully to his possessive affection. He succumbs to the lure of the Board of Trade and becomes a leading speculator, by a combination of boldness and luck gaining a corner on the wheat market. His preoccupation with business affairs causes him to neglect Laura, who drifts into an affair with Corthell, returned from a long absence in Europe. Natural laws defeat Jadwin’s speculative coup, when his monopoly is broken by an unforeseen production of wheat in the West. His financial ruin is accompanied by a physical breakdown, and Laura, who has been about to elope with Corthell, nurses her husband to health, coming to realize the bond between them. Although they lose their mansion and rich possessions, they face a future of hard work and simple living in the West with renewed hope and enthusiasm.... ...

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