The Octopus: A Story of California

Frank Norris

The Octopus: A Story of California is a 1901 novel by Frank Norris and was the first part of an uncompleted trilogy, The Epic of the Wheat. It describes the wheat industry in California, and the conflicts between wheat growers and a railway company. Norris was inspired to write the novel by the Mussel Slough Tragedy involving the Central Pacific Railroad. In the novel he depicts the tensions between the railroad, the ranchers and the ranchers' League. The book emphasized the control of "forces"—such as the power of railroad monopolies—over individuals. Some editions of the work give the subtitle as alternatively, A California Story.