The Pit Makes Commodities Trading Exciting

In The Pit: A Story of Chicago, Frank Norris combines a very good story with a mediocre one.

The better story, believe it or not,  is about speculating in wheat futures.

field of sprouted winter wheat
How much is this field of sprouted winter wheat worth?

Norris shows the challenge of beating the market becomes as addictive as heroin. Once hooked, traders risk their fortunes, their families, their very lives for fractions of a cent per bushel.

The weak, secondary story is a romance. The leading lady of this story marries the leading man of the other.Even she cannot understand her own behavior, which is equally bewildering to readers.

Despite the handicap of the secondary story, The Pit is powerful and very contemporary.

Norris assumes his readers know how commodities trading works. That might have been true in 1903, but I doubt many novel readers today have the necessary background.

However, if you know or are willing to look up how the market works (there’s a good, short explanation in another 1903 bestseller, George Horace Lorimer’s Letters of a Self-Made Merchant to His Son) will find that Norris’s 110-year-old novel gives a remarkably accurate picture of how the global economy of 2013 affects the daily lives of those who haven’t money to play the markets.

The Pit: A Story of Chicago
by Frank Norris
1903 bestseller #3
Project Gutenberg EBook #4382
My grade B-
Photo Credit: Sprouting Winter Wheat by Krappweis

© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni


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Linda Aragoni

I'm passionate about helping people learn through the medium of nonfiction writing. Although I occasionally have an idea of my own, I mostly build education tools by recycling and repurposing other folks' ideas.

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