At the center of events throughout the narrative, McTeague is furnished by Norris with a consistent acoustic profile, or audiograph. I define an audiograph as a characterization technique that endows fictional bodies with a set of distinctive acoustic properties designed to position characters with regard to the ensemble of social facts and practices that constitute the fictional world they inhabit.
McTeague's audiograph, which includes his more narrowly linguistic deficiencies (stammering when excited, limited range of vocabulary, lower-class sociolect), thus contributes significantly to the process of "casting out the outcast," which June Howard has identified as a central concern of naturalist narratives.
The audiograph Howells furnishes the Dryfoos family with serves to reinforce their social distance from the Marches much the same way Lindau's immigrant speech serves to mark out his deviance from the novel's middle-class norm.
In A Hazard of New Fortunes, Howells uses audiographs to indicate the degree to which characters belong to certain social spheres.