The Octopus Essay

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In the following essay, Bensen provides an overview of The Octopus, including discussing Norris' inspiration for the novel.

The Octopus was the sixth of the seven novels that Frank Norris wrote before his sudden death, at 32, in 1902. It is in most respects his best. In writing it, Norris was determinedly filling a gap in American literature: America had no adequate nonimitative "American novel" and no epic of the winning of the west.

By 1899 Norris had conceived an adequate subject: "the Wheat." Raised in the vast San Joaquin Valley of southern central California, it involved the labor of inhabitants of every ethnic and economic group. Then in "the Pit" in Chicago it was bought and resold to "the People" of the world. Finally, this product of American soil and labor sustained populaces of the farthest countries. The Octopus would be the first volume of a trilogy; The Pit, the...

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This section contains 968 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Octopus Study Guide
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The Octopus from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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