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No.49 (2005/3) >

Title :Frank Norris,The Octopusにおける社会正義
Title alternative :Social Justice in Frank Norris's The Octopus
Authors :平良, 柾史
Authors alternative :Taira, Masashi
Issue Date :Mar-2005
Abstract :The Octopus, published in 1901, is a novel based on an incident that happened between farmers and a railroad company in California in the late nineteenth century. The incident, known as the Mussel Slough Affair, was a struggle of farmers against the railroad monopoly that owned their farmland and dominated and exploited them by controlling wheat prices, freight rates, and all other financial transactions. When the railroad company raised the price of the land and put it up for public sale, the farmers' outrage broke into the open, and subsequent armed clashes lead to a tragedy, ending in the death of seven farmers. Frank Norris closely investigated this Affair and reconstructed it in literary form, The Octopus. In The Octopus, Norris often describes the railroad and trains as "the iron monster," the controlling metaphor representing the cruelty of the monstrous railroad monopoly, and further as "the leviathan with tentacles of steel clutching into the soil, the soulless forces, the ironhearted power, the monster, the colossus, the octopus." From the beginning to the end of the novel, the railroad monopoly clutches the farmers' soil, sucks their "life blood," and victimizes them. Norris clearly shows in this novel that man is impotent before the gigantic power of machines and monopoly, that is, irresistible power, which is a common term in the works of naturalism. Norris seems to follow the typical pattern of naturalism and the naturalistic tragic hero in The Octopus. However, throughout the novel, Norris's strong sympathy for the oppressed farmers is clearly shown through the eyes of Presley, a poet from the East and a persona in this novel. Norris does not conclude The Octopus as a naturalistic literary work proper, such as his former work McTeague, but rather concludes it much like a Howellian ethical drama in which good overcomes evil. At the end of the novel, Norris dares to introduce into the plot the death of a representative of the railroad monopoly, ironically swallowed by wheat in the vast hold of a ship. Through the investigation of the Mussel Slough Affair, Norris examines social justice and presents his protest against social evil in The Octopus.
Type Local :紀要論文
ISSN :1341-0482
Publisher :琉球大学法文学部
URI :http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12000/2727
Citation :琉球大学欧米文化論集 = Ryudai Review of Euro-American Studies no.49 p.55 -70
Appears in Collections:No.49 (2005/3)

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