Out of This Furnace

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Life in the late 19th and early 20th century was depressing and was an era filled with extremely hard and strenuous work that did not offer much future for the average person . An average wage earner could be virtually stuck in the same job for the rest their life, while the rich maintained their wealth mainly caused by the low taxes. Living conditions were poor for the average person and even worse for arriving immigrants. Despite the dreary and miserable outlook, many Americans, holding onto the ideals of laissez-faire and the American Dream, persevered in the hopes of success. Thomas Bell's Out of this Furnace is one such story. Coming to America with dreams and hopes of a better life, Bell tells the story of reality and challenges that await the immigrating Slovaks. He shows through the lives of Kracha, Mike, and Mary, that immigrants can be successful despite the anti-immigrant sentiment and power of large corporations.

Djuro Kracha, a recent immigrant, leaves Hungary in hopes that he is "leaving behind the endless poverty and oppression that were the birthrights of a Slovak peasant in Franz Josef's empire" (Bell, p.3). Kracha's desire to leave his plight behind in his native country and restart his life in America is the reason that also drove the Chinese to the United States, earlier the Irish and later the Mexicans (Discussion, 10/11/99). All of these immigrants have had to take some time to assimilate and to be accepted by the "Americans" ethnically, socially, and politically. Kracha is the first of his immediate family to come to the United States. Despite his dreams to leave poverty behind, Kracha, foolishly spends his money on alcohol, landing in New York without much money. He only has the hope of walking west until he finds...