The Octopus - Review Essay

993 Words 4 Pages
At the turn of the century, American readers were interested only in stories with happy endings, where goodness was praised and evil was punished. They did not particularly care if that was a false interpretation of the way life really was. When men such as Frank Norris, the author of The Octopus, wrote angrily of the injustices and poverty to be found in America, readers turned away. The Octopus made them change their minds. The course of the novel and the reality of its characters held the readers’ attention. It is so powerful a book that people had to care about the wheat growers, almost against their wishes.

The impact did not end in the early twentieth century, but continues its legacy into the new millenium.The Octopus, depicts
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Their solution to the crisis was to keep magnifying it, until it ruined the farmers. Once the railroad raised the price for the land, the farmers could not afford to buy. They proceeded to create “dummy buyers,” fictitious settlers who they created to come in and buy the land. Soon after Delany, a ranch worker was fired, the railroad used him to act as a “dummy buyer” and buy the land.

There was no way Delany could actually afforded to buy the land on his own; he was obviously acting as the railroad’s pawn, sent to aggravate the ranchers who leased farms from the railroad. The railroad also tampered with other types of characters in the story. Dyke was fired from his job at the railroad after he refused to work for the rates of a man doing half the work he was doing. Then after Dyke mortgaged his land to the railroad, they raised the rates on the crop he was producing. They drove him to poverty and when he tried to take back what they had stolen from him by robbing money from one of their trains, they had him thrown in jail for life.

This is another example of how Norris evinces the railroads unethical treatment of the common man in California at the time.Shelgrim, the executive of the P. and S.W. tried to justify the railroad’s actions, and in a way, pass on the responsibility, by calling the railroad a force, something that he had no control over. In the novel, he compared this force to the way that wheat was

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