In Dubious Battle book review
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In Dubious Battle book review
This story opens with the main character named Jim Nolan leaving behind his former life and going to meet Harry Nilson, a leader of the “Party.” Jim had a father killed in a riot, a mother who died, and a sister that was missing. He wants to join the “Party” because he wants to do something that will give his life meaning. He is accepted, and is introduced to other members of the party. The next day, Jim accompanies Mac McLeod to Torgas Valley to help workers organize a strike against the orchard owners in the valley. They meet a restaurant car owner named Al, who gives them food for free. Jim and Mac get off the train and meet a group of people. They help a woman named Lisa who is in labor deliver a baby. This event is important in the story, because this leads to the trust that Jim and Mac receive from all the other workers. They also meet London, the father-in-law of Lisa, who they will trust to lead the strike that they start. The workers already have a low mood, and when an old apple-picker falls out of a tree, the workers no longer wish to work in concern of their health. The workers start to strike, and assemble on the land of Al’s father, in exchange for picking his crop for free. London is charismatic, and takes the ideas from Mac to lead the strike. What will be the fate of the strikers, and what will Jim accomplish with his newly acquired skills?
Jim Nolan is a character who has always been angry at some type of institution throughout his life, which causes him to join the “Party.” He is young, and goes from being an apprentice to a leader. He is keen and brave, which emanate from his innate leadership ability.
Mac McLeod is a seasoned veteran of the “red” work, as he knows more about fieldwork than anyone else does. He is an older character, who has broad shoulders, long arms, and dried and cracked lips. He uses his experience to lead and organize the men that he works with.
Joy is an enforcer who contributes to the “Party” by sacrificing his body in taking chronic beatings. He is a short man with a disfigured face. He is typified by some as not too bright and insane by others; he is very pugnacious, as he is willing to fight anyone.
London is a working stiff who is able to command and gain the respect of men through his stature and charisma. He is an older man with intimidating size. He has a very big temper and is stubborn in a way.
Leadership is a prevailing force in life, because one’s ability to guide and direct a group determines the outcome of that group’s actions. Those who lead the strikers in the novel In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck manifest the idea that some leaders use violence and the thirst for revenge to augment the spirit of their group. Violence is one tool of which the leaders of the strikers use to give vitality to their group. The leaders feel that the intense nature of violence is what provokes the group most out of the aspects of violence. Mac comments, “Some things I do know, though. A smell of blood seems to steam ‘em up. Let ‘em kill somethin’, even a cat, an’ they’ll want to go right on killin’. If there’s a fight, an’ our guys get first blood, they’ll put up a hell of a battle.” The leaders feel the intensity as London, Mac and Jim discuss, “I cold-cocked Burke… I seen you pointin’, an’ I know what to do with ‘em. A little blood set the guys off.” (p. 331) The violence exacted by London brings the strikers to the level at which they are willing to go into battle. Because violence is such an effective device, leaders like Mac look at moments of violence as desirable opportunities. Some leaders also use the desire for revenge to gain exuberance from their group. This desire for revenge stems from the desire to look out for those who are victims of power. Mac
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In Dubious Battle, Labor history, Strike action, Industrial Workers of the World, United Steelworkers
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