Project Proposal



FrankNorris wrote the novel, The Octopus: A Story of California, with theaim that it would form the initial part of his trilogy. The noveldepicts the Californian wheat industry together with thedisagreements that arose between the Southwestern railroad and wheatfarmers (Norris2). Norrishas described the tension amongst the ranchers, the railroad as wellas the League of ranchers.

Thecharacter to be addressed in this project is Presley. He is both asurveyor and a poet, and he is seen to start and end the novel. Byreading the novel, it is true to say that Presley seems to correspondto the author. This is evidenced by the reason that he looks for a“Song of the West” similar to the author’s “Epic of theWheat”. For instance, he has published a poem regarding the plightof the wheat farmers named as “The Toilers” that has awakenedpublic interest. For this project, an American would be defined as anindividual born, raised or who lives in the United States (Brown 25).

Thecurrent project investigates the causes of the conflicts that arosebetween the Southwestern railroad and the wheat farmers. It is clearthat the farmers had leased land to grow wheat for numerous years anddone improvements on the same. However, the railroad endeavors torepossess the land, a step that the farmers had protested thusraising conflicts (Starr 22). Some of the main issues to be discussedand which supports the thesis includes ranch ownership, power of theforces, as well as resistance by the farmers.

Oneof the themes that are significant in this project is the power ofthe forces. It entails the control which the railroad monopolies hadas compared to individuals. It also includes the power that the wheatfarmers had in growing wheat.


Brown,Richard Maxwell. NoDuty to Retreat: Violence and Values in American History and Society.Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1991.

Norris,Frank. TheOctopus:A Story of California. 1901.

Starr,Kevin. Introduction:The Octopus.New York: Viking Penguin, Inc. 1986