The Octopus, Frank Norris
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Frank Norris

The Octopus

The Octopus: A Story of California (1901) is a novel by the American Frank Norris. Being based on actual bloody events, it narrates the unending conflicts between wheat farmers and a California railway company that lays claim to the lands that they have worked and improved for long. When the farmers attempt to buy the land according to a former contract signed between both parties, the company illegally raises the prices. The farmers’ league is defended by one of the ranchers named Magnus Derrick. The latter and his son Harran stand for integrity and love for the land. The corrupt railroad company is depicted as the incarnation of evil as it comes to turn the farmers’ life upside down. It is locally represented by S. Behrman, a villainous banker who advises its owners to raise wheat shipment rates to put the farmers under more pressure. The climax of the story takes place when the company finally decides to sell the land at incredibly high prices and pushes the farmers to resort to physical violence to defend their properties. This results in a disturbing confrontation that is recorded by the story’s poet and observer named Presley.
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