Exploitation Of Labor On The Hands Of Business Owners And Radicals School Essay

2239 words - 9 pages

John Steinbeck's, In Dubious Battle, is a proletarian novel that captures the lives of migratory apple orchard workers in Torgas Valley, California in the 1930's. Steinbeck wrote this novel to educate others, through "good literature", about the issues working class Americans face when exploited and controlled by a capitalistic social society. 
             Mac and Jim are labor organizers who travel into Torgas Valley to investigate the conditions that the migrant workers face as they pick apples for low wages and poor working conditions. Mac is a veteran labor organizer who believes that the working men of America are being exploited by the intense control of capitalist social systems. Mac believes that the value of work goes to the capitalists and not the workers. The wage struggle is of great concern to Mac. When asked if he is a radical he answered, "Anybody that wants a living wage is a radical". (Steinbeck, 1936) Jim is newcomer to the cause. Steinbeck uses Jim's character as someone that joins the labor movement after experiencing the misfortune of a capitalist system. For example, Jim was knocked and arrested for vagrancy when he was listening to a radical meeting outside his work place. This unjust and unlawful behavior caused Jim to join "the other side". The side that fought against the mistreatment of the working class. Steinbeck uses both characters to draw out issues that affect the working class. 
             Once Mac and Jim arrive in Torgas Valley, they portray themselves as migrant workers and begin their investigation into the exploitation of the workers. Steinbeck begins educating us by showing the reader how the workers actually lived. Steinbeck illustrates this when a pregnant wife of a migrant worker is petrified to give birth to her baby in a unsanitary tent, with no doctor or medical supplies. This is an example of poor living conditions. 
Charming so-called “bedroom radical” who uses his appeal with to women to get supplies for striking workers.
Jim Nolan
Nolan is spurred to become a communist activist as a result of his father being killed during a labor dispute and his subsequent hardship which had reaching a point near starvation. He is an eager and student of Mac’s organizational skills, but comes to believe that violent means sometimes become necessary to achieve ends. Ultimately, he becomes the victim of a violence himself, dying as the result of a shotgun blast to the head. Mac then uses Jim’s faceless corpse to inspire his comrades to action.
· Jim Nolan– New member of the "Party," whose political development is one of the book's central themes. His father was a Communist himself, and was legendary as one who fought.
Mac McLeod
Mentor to Jim Nolan, Mac is the communist labor operative who organizes the strike among fruit pickers. He is more practical than theoreti...


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