Out of This Furnace

1 January 2017

The Characters of Out of This Furnace Thomas Bell’s novel Out of This Furnace tells the story of four working class immigrants, and how they fight adversity. Throughout the novel it becomes apparent that the characters have an interesting relationship that plays off of one another. Over the course of Out of This Furnace, what the characters Kracha, Mike, Mary, and Dobie have in common is that they live by the same ideals and are overtly effected by their environments, which in turn creates difference between them.

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The protagonists’ beliefs make them alike. They hold the values of family highly, and rely on each other. The fate of their loved ones means the world to them, and for this reason they persevere through whatever comes at them, though they have already sacrificed so much. Mike, though capable of achieving much more than what he does, works in a mill so that Mary and his children can live better right up until his death. As a family, it is inherent that they hold the same morals, but the similarities go beyond that.

They are all forced to adapt and react to their circumstances. As all immigrants did at that time period, they come in search of bettering their lives, to start anew in a place full of hopes and opportunity, but quickly realize that it is an uphill battle against seemingly insurmountable odds. Without other options, they find themselves scrambling to make ends meet however they can, facing terrible living conditions, deal with social discrimination, and face tragedy, yet continued to press on.

Even with her husband’s death, Mary tries as best she can to support her family in his absence. And when she herself dies, Dobie has no option but to become self reliant and keep going. With little to lose and everything to gain, the protagonists, as well as thousands of immigrants like them, relentlessly struggle to be recognized as “American” and to adapt to the world around them. On the other end of the spectrum, its the same circumstance that creates distinction between the protagonists.

As everything around the characters changes, the characters may react differently. For instance, Kracha came to the United States with optimism and anticipation, however when he arrives the life of a working class immigrant proves to be hardly better than the life he left behind. He becomes disconnected and pessimistic, much unlike his original demeanor. To a separate effect, disaster befalls Dobie but by the time the book has ended things are going well for him. The hardships of life has forced Dobie to become a strong willed man.

With the success of the Labor unions, Dobie has sees what he has always yearned for; social equality for workers and immigrants. The protagonists of Out of This Furnace are plagued by misfortune, poverty, and social injustice. Their lives are intertwined and greatly effected by each other’s actions, and similarities can be found between them such as their ethical makeup, correspondence to the events around them, as well as their differences in how to deal with these events.

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