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Out Of This Furnace

Out Of This Furnace

THOMAS BELL
With an Afterword by David P. Demarest
Copyright Date: 1976
https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt5hjr2s
Pages: 424
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjr2s
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  • Book Info
    Out Of This Furnace
    Book Description:

    Out of This Furnaceis Thomas Bell's most compelling achievement. Its story of three generations of an immigrant Slovak family -- the Dobrejcaks -- still stands as a fresh and extraordinary accomplishment.

    The novel begins in the mid-1880s with the naive blundering career of Djuro Kracha. It tracks his arrival from the old country as he walked from New York to White Haven, his later migration to the steel mills of Braddock, Pennsylvania, and his eventual downfall through foolish financial speculations and an extramarital affair. The second generation is represented by Kracha's daughter, Mary, who married Mike Dobrejcak, a steel worker. Their decent lives, made desperate by the inhuman working conditions of the mills, were held together by the warm bonds of their family life, and Mike's political idealism set an example for the children. Dobie Dobrejcak, the third generation, came of age in the 1920s determined not to be sacrificed to the mills. His involvement in the successful unionization of the steel industry climaxed a half-century struggle to establish economic justice for the workers.

    Out of This Furnaceis a document of ethnic heritage and of a violent and cruel period in our history, but it is also a superb story. The writing is strong and forthright, and the novel builds constantly to its triumphantly human conclusion.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7886-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Out of This Furnace

    • Part One KRACHA
      (pp. 3-118)

      George kracha came to America in the fall of 1881, by way of Budapest and Bremen. He left behind him in a Hungarian village a young wife, a sister and a widowed mother; it may be that he hoped he was likewise leaving behind the endless poverty and oppression which were the birthrights of a Slovak peasant in Franz Josef’s empire. He was bound for the hard-coal country of northeastern Pennsylvania, where his brother-in-law had a job on a railroad section gang.

      A final letter from America had contained precise instructions. Once landed in New York he was to ask...

    • Part Two MIKE DOBREJCAK
      (pp. 119-208)

      In december of 1900, when people were saying, “Well, the first year of the twentieth century is almost over,” and a few were stubbornly reviving the old argument that the twentieth century had yet to begin — “If a century is 100 years, then nineteen centuries are 1900 years and the twentieth doesn’t begin until January 1, 1901” — Mike Dobrejcak was twenty-five years old, a quiet, slow-speaking, dry-humored young man whose eyes crinkled before he smiled, who smiled more often than he laughed. He had been in America eleven years, and for ten of them he had worked in the blast...

    • Part Three MARY
      (pp. 209-258)

      They brought him home, his face peaceful, the shattered skull and the burns on his body mercifully concealed, and for a while he lay in the children’s bedroom upstairs. Then they took him away. The day was wintry, a dark, angry day with the wind scattering dry snow like dust across the face of the hill. They buried her heart with him. She couldn’t imagine wanting to go on living, yet this is the way it was: after the return from the cemetery, after the last friend had gone, she had to cook supper for the children and put them...

    • Part Four DOBIE
      (pp. 259-414)

      Dobie came through the gate, said “So long” to Hagerty, and crossed the street, lively with traffic and home-going men. Except where the posters and banners announcing a new model car made one corner gay, Thirteenth Street looked shabbier than usual, perhaps because it was in shadow. Afternoon sunshine flooded the General Office building’s ordered brick and limestone, its green lawn and white parking lines; above and beyond it the hills of North Braddock were a dusty brown. It had been a dry September. Mr. Flack, the General Superintendent, was standing on the steps of the building’s main entrance, listening...

  2. AFTERWORD
    (pp. 415-424)
    David P. Demarest Jr.

    THE Monongahela Cemetery spreads out across a hilltop a mile north of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Its lower ranges are dominated by Irish names, burials that date from the late nineteenth century. Near the lower gate is the Victorian mausoleum of Captain Bill Jones, Andrew Carnegie’s first steel-master, killed in a furnace accident in 1889. The lower ranges are orderly and well landscaped.

    By contrast, near the top, on the cemetery’s steepest slope, is a dense cluster of Slovak burials from the first decades of the twentieth century. The memorials are small and often homemade—concrete or wooden or steel-bar markers that...