The Idea Of Progress In Out Of

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The Idea Of Progress In Out Of This Furnace Essay, Research Paper “Progress” is a continuously operating process, one that occurs without us even recognizing it, that is until we become one of its victims. Progress claims its victims and creates its winners and losers while the people who are destroyed by it are forgotten. In his 1941 novel Out of this Furnace, Thomas Bell brings us one step closer to understanding the lives that were sacrificed in the name of progress. It is a story of immigrants coming to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream, only to disappear into the industry that beckoned them. Through the lives of Kracha, Mike, Mary, and Dobie we are able to view the life of the immigrant worker in the evolving industrial society. Bell stresses the

idea of consumption throughout the novel to reveal the themes of the novel and illustrate the lives of his characters. The novel begins with an immigrant, Kracha, making his way to the Unites States from Hungary. Not having spent more then a few days away from his wife, Kracha is tempted by a fellow traveler, Zuska, on the boat ride to America. This temptation can be justified not only by Kracha s character but also by the desires that the new nation created in him. At this point Kracha is tempted more by his chance at a bright future then by the woman herself. Zuska merely represents all the opportunities that face Kracha in his new life. In order to satisfy his need for Zuska, Kracha splurges and throws Zuska a birthday party. This party leaves Kracha, prophetically, penniless

and unable to afford a ticket to White Haven where he is to meet his sister. Though he is broke, he is optimistic for his future when he separates from Zuska and her husband. When talking about meeting again in the future he says, “Who knows? We may all be millionaires by then. Then they depart, dreams intact, for an unknown future. Bell begins his description of Kracha s departure form the city by stating, “With the river at his back there was only one way to go. He walked until he was out of the city, in the countryside, by that time it was getting dark.” By describing the beginning of his long journey as walking from the city and river towards darkness we are given our first real image of consumption. Kracha faces America and walks into the darkness, disappearing into a

country from which he will never emerge. Bell returns to the image of consumption in his description of Dubik s death. The death of Dubik stands as one of the most visual scenes of the novel. The physical and mental anguish of Dubik, who was burnt when a furnace “slipped,” is made vividly clear through Bell s physical descriptions. The mental suffering of his best friend, Kracha, is made apparent through Bell s use of juxtaposition. Although he is trying to soothe his best friend, Kracha is overwhelmed by what is going on around him. “Foremen and straw bosses were already bustling about, ordering the men back to their jobs” (52). This image is quickly followed by Kracha s realization that the “sun had come up; the hills on the other side of the river were bright with

it” (52). These observations illustrate that despite all the pain and suffering experienced by Dubik and Kracha, life is continuing around them, relatively unaltered. Both of these images are in direct contrast with the emotions being felt and not only amplify the horrible image of Dubik s death but present its uselessness. The harshness of this scene is multiplied when Bell testifies that though the death of the workers was officially ruled an accident, the company had known the furnace was “hanging,” and “in a larger sense it (Dubik s death) was the result of greed, and in part of the education of the American steel industry.” (54) Rationalizing Dubik s death as part of the process of education dehumanizes him and the others who died in the mill. Bell s use of