Steel Mill Immigrants Of Industrial America
For many Americans, the late nineteenth century was a time of big business, marked by economic and social evolution. In the period between the 1880 and 1920, the American economy was growing at a rapid pace. Many European immigrants without industrial skills flooded into American factories and steel mills. These new comer's came in search of better economic opportunity, which paved the way for Heavy, low paying labor that became the job description of the era for many immigrants. One such story of immigrants of the time is Thomas Bell's Out of this Furnace. This not only a story of three generations of Slovaks and the challenges they faced but also about the Americanization and evolving of political consciousness of the immigrant workers of the American steel towns(415). Djuro Kracha is the first of his immediate family and of the three generations of immigrants to come to this country. Like many immigrants he hoped he was leaving behind the endless poverty and oppression which were the birthrights of a Slovak peasant(3). Starting out with little, Kracha first worked in the rail road industry and then followed a friend to Homestead. Dubik, because it was easier to get a job with a friend already working in the mill, landed him a job working in the blast furnaces. Work in the mills was hard and dangerous. The men worked from six to six, seven days a week. One week on day shifts and one week on night shifts, at the end of every shift the workers worked twenty-four hours. When the men worked the long shift they where exhausted, this made it fatally easy to be careless. Accidents were frequent and the employers did little or nothing to improve the conditions that the workers had to face. One example in the novel is when a blast furnace explodes and kills George's best friend Dubik; these kinds of accidents were typical of daily life in the mills during this period. Trapped by the constant work schedules and fear of...
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