In Dubious Battle short summary & analysis

In Dubious Battle


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In Dubious Battle - John Steinbeck


In Dubious Battle Analysis

In Dubious Battle was published in 1936. As in his other novels, John Steinbeck expresses labor problems in this novel. The years described in the novel are in the 1930s, when worker riots broke out. On October 29, 1929, the day remembered as "Black Tuesday", the American stock market collapsed. After this collapse, the problem of unemployment, employee and employer conflict spreads. John Steinbeck wrote this work influenced by such an environment. As can be understood from the title and the end of the novel, he gave the message that the worker problem will not end forever. Another point that draws my attention in the novel is the problem of workers' inability to unite. Most workers are reluctant to support this revolt out of concerns for livelihoods and money.

In Dubious Battle Short Summary

Jim Nolan notices a fight after work while working at the Tulman store. He approaches to watch the fight closely. From behind, a policeman lowers the baton on his shoulder. Jim is arrested without his fault in this fight. Jim tries to prove he's not a lonely loser. If necessary, Tulman Store manager tells them to call Mr. Webb. When they call Tulman Store, it tells them they don't know anybody named Jim. This is why Jim is detained and tried for participating in a leftist action. In prison, Jim is constantly watching people. Jim sees himself torn and exhausted. But unlike other prison friends, they look with hope that this order will change.

Jim Nolan is a teenager who lost his mother and father. His father was shot and killed in a labor fight. His mother also dies while in prison. Her sister May is missing. He has no one except his uncle. They do not meet with his uncle either. After Jim is released from prison, he applies to join a communist party. The name of this party is the American Workers Party. The party is very careful in choosing its members. After the interview, Harry will go through Nilson's assessment. When asked why he wanted to become a member of the party, he explained that the order broke up his family and that his father was shot and killed in an employee-employer fight. His father doesn't want his son Jim to read. Unlike Jim, he reads books by authors such as Karl Marx-Capital, Plato-Democracy, Utopia. His thoughts are shaped by these books. Jim is accepted to the party. Harry Nilson takes Jim to a house where he will stay. Four friends stay here. Mac, Dick and Joy are his party friends. The instructor in the group is Mac. Dick's job is to raise donations. Joy is the weakest character in the group. He is someone who spews a grudge against the police and is caught in all kinds of propaganda and cannot hold his tongue. When Jim sees this version of Joy, he remembers his father. His father is also someone who cannot be cured by beatings. When they find out that the apple pickers' wages have been reduced in Torgas Valley, they decide to go there. Here, they will organize a propaganda. Jim is very excited about this. There is a restaurateur named Al Anderson. The party members direct him to this man. Al feeds and helps the workers to sneak into them. Jim and Mac hear a painful scream from the workers. Trying to learn the workers' troubles, Jim and Mac learn that workers are forced to work for fifteen cents a day. Mac realizes London's reputation among the workers. Lisa, London's bride, will give birth. Mac explains that the midwife is unreliable and that she can give birth herself. Mac's goal is to gather workers around him and move together. It happens as he wishes. At the birth of Lisa, the workers help together in unison. They quickly establish themselves among the workers. Although Mac knew nothing about the birth, things went well, and he was able to deliver. The next day, they go to pick apples with the workers. There are inspectors who calculate the apple buckets. Jim meets an old man named Dan. They draw this man to their side in a short time. There is another well-respected worker among the workers named Dakin. They want to attract this worker to their ranks. Dakin's situation is better than other employees. So, it would be a little difficult to convince. Inspectors worry about sensations among workers. There is an uprising of the workers. One situation that triggers this is Dan falling from the ladder. Workers claim that the ladder is decayed. A worker revolt soon ensues. London is the head of the strike. For possible health conditions, Jim and Mac find a doctor. Jim and Mac announce their announcement through London. Workers stop working and strike in a field. New ones have already been found to replace the outgoing workers. Jim and Mac get caught in the crowd as they block the newly arrived workers' train. Joy appears in front of them at that moment. Blood comes from his mouth and falls to the ground. Friends who try to use Joy's death are successful in this. Employee workers are planned to join them and strike. This situation is prevented in a short time. There is a harsh reaction against the plan. In the fire, Jim's head is separated from his body. Seeing his friend this way, Mac says that his friend doesn't want anything for him, and the novel ends with an unexpected ending.


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