Out Of This Furnace By Thomas Bell

1874 Words 8 Pages
In his book Out of This Furnace Thomas Bell follows the lives of generations of Slovak immigrants as they attempt to make a living in the steel mills. Though Bell’s book is fictional it gives accurate and detailed insight as to what immigrant workers lived through. As Bell follows each immigrants’ story through the years he simultaneously chronicles the many trials and tribulations not only of individual families, but of the nation as a whole. The first character Bell introduces is George Kracha. Kracha travels to America from Hungary in the Fall of 1881. He joins his sister Francka and her husband in White Haven, Pennsylvania where he gets a job working on the railroads. After a year of working and saving his wages Kracha is able to bring …show more content…
One could say it is foreshadowing for the years to come. Mill worker’s wages were continuously rising and falling, forcing Elena to take on boarders to help make money. As rough as things were in the mills most workers didn’t vote or participate in politics and for the ones that did, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Bell describes the imbalance of power between the different classes in this statement Kracha makes to a fellow Slovak mill worker: “There are men in that mill who were born here, whose fathers and grandfathers were born here. They know more English than you'll ever learn. And what good is their vote doing them? They have to work in the mill and eat dirt like any greenhorn. Let me tell you, I've been in America enough to know that it's run just like any other country. In Europe your emperors and grand dukes own everything and over here it's your millionaires and your trusts. They run the country to suit themselves, and don't think they're going to let you interfere every few years with your miserable vote. Get that into your head. Your vote means nothing. The company man always wins. If he isn't a company man to start with, he becomes one afterward; the millionaires see to that” (Bell …show more content…
With this new generation of mill workers and immigrants there is a shift in the working class. “The Slovaks came; and once more there was a general displacement. The Irish began to invade the better parts of the town, while those Americans and English who could afford it fled into Pittsburgh’s suburbs” (Bell 122). As immigrants continued to travel to America contempt for them grew. At the time many Americans were against immigration. Some reasons being: immigrants were thought to be uneducated and unintelligent, they increased crime and alcoholism, they added to the number of poor and illiterate, and they knew nothing of American ways and customs. Dobrejcak marries one of Kracha’s daughters, Mary. Times are hard for Dobrejcak and his family. There are layoffs at the mills and work is scarce. The steel mills use this leverage to bully their employees into voting for governmental candidates that would favor big business. Many immigrants, scared to lose their jobs, quietly obey. Despite the threats he receives at work, Dobrejcak remains hopeful of change and “had registered as a Republican – anything else would have been suicidal – but had determined to vote for Eugene Debs, the Socialist. He knew the risk. Should he be found out -- and that the company had ways of learning how a man had voted nobody in Braddock doubted – he would be fired.” (Bell 189-190). It is at this point there starts to be

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