Quotes from The Octopus: A Story of California

Frank Norris ·  688 pages

Rating: (1.4K votes)


“If I were to name the one crying evil of American life, Mr. Derrick, it would be the indifference of the better people to public affairs. It is so in all our great centres. There are other great trusts, God knows, in the United States besides our own dear P. and S.W. Railroad. Every state has its own grievance. If it is not a railroad trust, it is a sugar trust, or an oil trust, or an industrial trust, that exploits the People, because the people allow it. The indifference of the People is the opportunity of the despot. It is as true as that the whole is greater than the part, and the maxim is so old that it is trite - it is laughable. It is neglected and disused for the sake of some new ingenious and complicated theory, some wonderful scheme of reorganization, the fact remains, nevertheless, simple, fundamental, everlasting. The People have but to say 'No' and not the strongest tyranny, political, religious, or financial, that was ever organized, could survive one week.”
― Frank Norris, quote from The Octopus: A Story of California


“Believe this, young man," exclaimed Shelgrim, layinga thick powerful forefinger on the table to emphasize his words, "try to believe this - to begin with - that railroads build themselves. Where there is a demand sooner or later there will be a supply. Mr. Derrick, does he grow his wheat? The Wheat grows itself. What does he count for? Does he supply the force? What do I count for? Do I build the Railroad? You are dealing with forces, young man, when you speak of Wheat and the Railroads, not with men. There is the Wheat, the supply. It must be carried to feed the People. There is the demand. The Wheat is one force, the Railroad, another, and there is the law that governs them - supply and demand. Men have only little to do in the whole business. Complications may arise, conditions that bear hard on the individual - crush him maybe - but the Wheat will be carried to feed the people as inevitably as it will grow. If you want to fasten the blame of the affair at Los Muertos on any one person, you will make a mistake. Blame conditions, not men.”
― Frank Norris, quote from The Octopus: A Story of California


“Wait till you see-at the same time that your family is dying for lack of bread-a hundred thousand acres of wheat-millions of bushels of food-grabbed and gobbled by the Railroad Trust, and then talk of moderation. That talk is just what the Trust wants to hear. It ain't frightened of that. There's one thing only it does listen to, one things it is frightened of-the people with dynamite in their hands,-six inches of plugged gaspipe. That talks.”
― Frank Norris, quote from The Octopus: A Story of California


“He strove for the diapason, the great song that should embrace in itself a whole epoch, a complete era, the voice of an entire people, wherein all people should be included—they and their legends, their folk lore, their fightings, their loves and their lusts, their blunt, grim humour, their stoicism under stress, their adventures, their treasures found in a day and gambled in a night, their direct, crude speech, their generosity and cruelty, their heroism and bestiality, their religion and profanity, their self-sacrifice and obscenity—a true and fearless setting forth of a passing phase of history, un-compromising, sincere; each group in its proper environment; the valley, the plain, and the mountain; the ranch, the range, and the mine—all this, all the traits and types of every community from the Dakotas to the Mexicos, from Winnipeg to Guadalupe, gathered together, swept together, welded and riven together in one single, mighty song, the Song of the West.”
― Frank Norris, quote from The Octopus: A Story of California


About the author

Frank Norris
Born place: in Chicago, Illinois, The United States
Born date March 5, 1870
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