The book Out of This Furnace is a work of historical fiction written by Thomas Bell, in which the lives of four different individuals are told and woven together, and consequentially describe the changes taking place in different generations of immigrant workers in America. Beginning with Kracha, then leading to Mike, then Mary, and finally Dobie, this book does an excellent job of showing how the American immigrant's life changed mid 1800s to the 1920s. As seen in each generation, immigrants became as a whole more and more liberal in their beliefs and lifestyles. Many of their beliefs change, however, one of the most interesting is the development of the labor unions, and how they are viewed by the workers in that time period. Throughout his life, Mike Dobrejcak was a firm believer in the unions. He supported them, and recognized their potential value to workers such as himself, but never was forthcoming in his beliefs. Why, then, does Dobie, unlike his father, choose to openly demonstrate his support and actively speak out?
The first possibility is that Dobie learned from the previous generation, and particularly his father, that passive support did not cause any changes, and he sees a more active approach as the only alternative. Throughout his section of the book, Dobie is continually speaking out as an advocate of the union, and defies the threats given to him by his employers. For example, in a conversation with another coworker regarding the arbitrary pay rate reduction, Dobie answers the question, "Yeah, but if we stay how do we know they won't change the rates again without saying anything?" by saying, "Let's wait until we see the big shot tonight. If he don't give us no satisfaction we won't work." (Bell 265) In this, Dobie shows his proactive nature, and refuses to take no as an answer. He may get this from his family around him, for many of them seem to share similar beliefs. When speaking with Aunt Anna about Election Day, she says:...
Cited: Bell, Thomas. Out of This Furnace. 1941.
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