The Octopus Essay

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Kelly is an instructor of creative writing and literature at two community colleges in Illinois. In the following essay, he argues that, in spite of the apparent simplicity of the novel's presentation of good and evil, there are morally complex characters who make readers question their own assumptions.

Reading a progressive, muckraking novel like Frank Norris' The Octopus tends to lead readers toward anger and indignation, of course; that is what novels of this type are supposed to do. These are books that call for change, and anger leads to change. There is a problem, though, when readers can tell that they are supposed to feel angry about matters that simply do not excite strong feelings. As years pass, the issues involved are not as outrageous as they once were. In a way, this is a natural and even desirable part of the muckraking process: if novels that...

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This section contains 1,779 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Octopus Study Guide
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