Out of This Furnace

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Out of this Furnace, by Thomas Bell, tells the story of a multigenerational family of Slovakian immigrants. This family of five generations came to American in the late nineteenth century in search of a better life. One of the first to arrive, Djuro Kracha, arrived in the New World in the middle of the 1880s. The novel starts off telling of his voyage from the “old country” and the labor he performed to accumulate enough money for his walk to Pennsylvania. He ventured on his journey to Pennsylvania in the search for a job in the steel mills. The story also tells of his rejection by the mainstream community as a “hunkey,” and the lives of his daughter and grandson. Soon enough though, the family becomes somewhat acculturate and even “Americanized,” and they soon become to resent the treatments they suffer. Their slow rise to business ownership was quickly ended by a series of events; a summer of Djuro’s drinking habit, Djuro’s return to his work in the steel mills, Mary’s marriage to a worker in the mills, and Djuro’s grandson’s disagreements with unfair labor prices. These events eventually intertwine with America’s transformation of the 1880’s to the 1940’s. During the 1880’s to the 1940’s, a wave of Eastern European immigrants grew in America, triggered by growing industries and advancing technology. This soon led to the establishment of steel mills, other factories, and plants which reshaped the American labor force. The experiences of Djuro and Mike, Mary’s husband, reflect a level of hostility towards Europeans from “mainstream” Americans and earlier. Without a doubt, the Kracha’s were negatively affected by stereotypes and attributions. However, the men and women who desired citizenship in the New World, Bell suggested only desired it to improve their lives and the futures of their families. Bell does not portray any immigrants who fail to accept the necessity of hard work. Therefore, Djuro’s minor episode of drunkenness shouldn’t take away from the years...
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