John Steinbeck opens his novel, In Dubious Battle, with the following quote from Milton's Paradise Lost (this is where the title of the novel comes from):
Innumerable force of Spirits armed,
That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power opposed
In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven,
And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?
All is not lost--the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?
While Milton's work specifically looks at the battle between Heaven and Satan, as well as Man's fall from grace from Eden, Steinbeck also takes a similar vision of some kind of paradise being lost and the struggle to regain it. In In Dubious Battle, the struggle is between those who might be considered blessed, those who are the salt of the earth, and they are battling against the evil landowners who seek to strip the workers of their dignity and livelihood.
Your essay is to take on this theme of the proverbial Little Guy, the Everyman, and his continual battle against the conglomerate evils of Capitalism (for surely this is how Steinbeck would have seen this), and explain how successful (or not) Steinbeck was in portraying this "battle". You might even want to refer to the other texts we read in class. What does a dubious battle look like? What does it entail? Who is expected to win, and is to lose (for there always has to be a winner and a loser in a battle)? What does it mean, if anything, that there was a group of people who were instigating and manipulating the battle for one side? Actually read the Milton quote and understand what it has to do with the action in the novel.
Your essay must be as specific as possible; avoid broad generalizations. Show that you actually read the book and that you actually thought about what was going on. Your essay will be heavily weighted towards your use of specific...
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