HFP- Frank Norris

by Damien Hernandez

Life Influences

Frank Norris, American novelist who was the first important naturalist writer in the United States.


  • His father was a self-made jewelry store owner who became wealthy through his own hard work.
  • Norris grew up in a luxurious household where his mother read him poetry by Robert Browning.
  • Norris went to the University of California
  • After his parents divorced, he dropped out and enrolled himself in Harvard for a year.

Influential People:

  • Norris had been writing a series of gothic short stories during school, imitating Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, when a teacher at Harvard persuaded him to read novels by French writer Émile Zola. Norris became a disciple of Zola and began to write fiction in the school of naturalism.

Motivation for Success:

  • Following his studies, Norris went to South Africa where he attempted to establish himself as a travel writer. He wrote about the Boer War for the San Francisco Chronicle but was deported from the country after being captured by the Boer Army.
  • He subsequently joined the staff of another San Francisco publication, The Wave (1896-1898).
  • He continue to take numerous jobs in journalism to establish himself in the field of journalism.
  • Norris integrated his knowledge of interviewing all sorts of people from his numerous journalism jobs to help create his novels.
  • Journalism would be his main occupation while he attempted to have his novels published.
  • Norris' novels were eventually published, but after his death in 1902 from peritonitis following appendicitis. He was 32 years of age.

A man full of potential and greatness who seek for the truth and died to early to see his impact on the world through his novels.

  • novels including, "The Octopus", and "The Pit"

Defining Quote

The People have a right to the Truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. -Frank Norris

Different Time Period

If Norris lived in the 21th century, he would not be as popular or successful back then when he started writing. During his time period, the late 19th century, the naturalist movement was popular thanks to amazing pioneers of the craft of naturalism, such as Emile Zola. A person Norris studied and learned about naturalism from. He was successful spreading the type of literature that is naturalism, which is romantic and realism combine, because of his novels which were based on events that occurred in the 19th century. His style of writing was unique back then, since it was almost poetry but with hard cold facts.

If I so was gifted with the same skills that Frank Norris possessed back in his days, I would be writing for big newspaper companies. Norris was a gifted journalist and novelist. His way to find the truth for journalism helped him so much with his novel writing. I would be able to write just like him and produce a book similar to his epic of wheat trilogy. But instead, the corruption would be something in modern times.

Political Cartoon

  • The Epic of Wheat trilogy was supposed to chronicle the events involving the wheat industry, starting with The Octopus which told the story of the tension in California between the wheat farmers and the railway service.
  • His next book in the trilogy was The Pit, which moved from the growing and distribution of wheat to the actual selling of the wheat in Chicago.
  • He planned to write The Wolf, the final chapter of the trilogy, about the consumption of the wheat in impoverished countries.

He was a muckraker in his time, writing about corruption in the wheat industry as mentions in his novels.

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Book Trailer

Personal Evaluation:

  • Interesting story that graves the reader's attention.
  • Cool multiple characters that anyone can relate too.
  • The story does not have a good guy, just people turn bad due to their surrounding.
  • Well-written by Frank Norris, described every detail.
The Octopus by Frank Norris Trailer

Other Work & Style

The Pit by Frank Norris is the second book in the Epic of Wheat Trilogy, after the first book, The Octopus. The Pit was published in 1903 after his death, the book deals with wheat speculation on the Chicago Board of Trade. Following the monopolistic railway corporation in The Octopus.

  • During the time of writing this novel, Norris already established himself as a top novelist due to his very popular novel, The Octopus. So he was focus on writing the second book in the trilogy.
  • Norris’s plot of Curtis Jadwin’s fascinating and ruthless efforts to corner the Chicago wheat market was based on an actual event in 1897, when Joseph Leiter attempted such a feat.
  • a novel that spoke directly to the times. Every major American naturalist, from Stephen Crane to Jack London, acknowledged through their fiction that speculation—gambling on the future—had become an ironic indicator not only of economic but also of social “progress” in the United States.

If the work was published in a different time period it would be less appreciated, since the novel was written for the time period of the early progressive age.


"I think I love him very much – sometimes. And then sometimes I think I don’t. I can’t tell. There are days when I’m sure of it, and there are others when I wonder if I want to be married, after all. I thought when love came it was to be – oh uplifting, something glorious... something that would shake me all to pieces. I thought that was the only kind of love there was".

  • Notice the over utilization of the word "I"
  • describes every detail of what the person is feeling.


In the trilogy, Norris wanted these books to be epic poems based around the facts of the conflicts between farmers and railroad companies, and the facts about the distribution process. Each written or would have been written in a naturalistic style.


I had a blast researching the naturalist, novelist, and journalist, Frank Norris. He was an odd ball in the selections of figures, because I really did not know who he was. I picked him to learn about this person I never heard of, and I do not regret at all. I enjoyed reading his novel, The Octopus, and enjoyed every moment of it. The next book I am probably going to read is the next book in the series, The Pit. I like his style of writing and find it very unique compare to other writers. In the end, Frank Norris was an fascinating and interesting person to learn about. Throughout my research I learned what naturalism is and the events that occurred in the 19th century that aspired Norris to write. I just wish he did not died so young, he had a lot more in him to give to the public.