The Octopus: A Story of California: The Epic of Wheat v. 1 (Twentieth Century Classics)
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Like the tentacles of an octopus, the tracks of the railroad reached out across California, as if to grasp everything of value in the state Based on an actual, bloody dispute between wheat farmers and the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1880, The Octopus is a stunning novel of the waning days of the frontier West. To the tough-minded and self-reliant farmers, the monopolistic, land-grabbing railroad represented everything they despised: consolidation, organization, conformity. But Norris idealizes no one in this epic depiction of the volatile situation, for the farmers themselves ruthlessly exploited the land, and in their hunger for larger holdings they resorted to the same tactics used by the railroad: subversion, coercion and outright violence. In his introduction, Kevin Starr discusses Norris's debt to Zola for the novel's extraordinary sweep, scale and abundance of characters and details.
Come to me,” he murmured. Then slowly he felt the advance of the Vision. It was approaching. Every instant it drew gradually nearer. At last, he was to see. It had left the shadow at the base of the hill; it was on the hill itself. Slowly, steadily, it ascended the slope; just below him there, he heard a faint stirring. The grasses rustled under the touch of a foot. The leaves of the bushes murmured, as a hand brushed against them; a slender twig creaked. The sounds of approach were more
rate.” Annixter uttered a derisive shout. “ A protest! That’s good, that is. When the P. and S. W. objects to rates it don’t ‘ protest,’ m’ son. The first you hear from Mr. Shelgrim is an injunction from the courts preventing the order for new rates from taking effect. By the Lord,” he cried angrily, leaping to his feet, “ I would like to know what all this means, too. Why didn’t you reduce our grain rates? What did we elect you for? ” “ Yes, what did we elect you for? ” demanded Osterman and
at Los Muertos that day. Gloom and the shadow of tragedy brooded heavy over the place. A great silence pervaded everything, a silence broken only by the subdued coming and going of the undertaker and his assistants. When Presley, having resolved to go into Bonneville, came out through the doorway of the house, he found the undertaker tying a long strip of crape to the bell-handle. Presley saddled his pony and rode into town. By this time, after long hours of continued reflection upon one
of the garden, the perfumes of the magnolia flowers, of the mignonette borders, of the crumbling walls, there expanded a new odour, or the faint mingling of many odours, the smell of the roses that lingered in her hair, of the lilies that exhaled from her neck, of the heliotrope that disengaged itself from her hands and arms, and of the hyacinths with which her little feet were redolent. And then, suddenly, it was herself—her eyes, heavy-lidded, violet blue, full of the love of him; her sweet
Caraher, lowering at Annixter. The other flared up on the instant. “Rot, rot. I know better. In some punches it goes; and then, again, in others it don’t.” But it was left to Hooven to launch the successful phrase: “Gesundheit,” he exclaimed, holding out his second glass. After drinking, he replaced it on the table with a long breath. “Ach Gott! ” he cried, “dat poonsch, say I tink dot poonsch mek some demn goot vertilizer, hey?” Fertiliser! The others roared with laughter. “Good eye,