The Octopus Essay

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In the following essay, French examines critical response to The Octopus, and measures the consistency of the social theories presented in the novel.

The traditional interpretation of The Octopus (1901) is summarized in the description of the novel in The Oxford Companion to American Literature as "dealing with the raising of wheat in California, and the struggle of the ranchers against the railroads." Coming as it did when the abusive practices of the railroads and the agitation of the enraged farmers were about to lead to major reform legislation, The Octopus has often been identified as either a result of the powerful Populist movement of the 1890's or a foreshadowing of the muckraking books of the early twentieth century—a kind of companion piece of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

Although Norris in 1899 wrote to a Mrs. Parks that he was firmly "enlisted upon the other side" from the railroad...

(read more from the Critical Essay #3 section)

This section contains 6,854 words
(approx. 18 pages at 400 words per page)
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