Analyzing Thomas Bell’s Out of This Furnace

June 7, 2021 by Essay Writer

Thomas Bells novel Out of this Furnace examines the mill workers in the late nineteenth century. This was the period that many Europeans made the trip to America in search of a better life. In hopes of one day going home wealthy, these unskilled laborers worked long hours in dirty, dangerous factories for measly wages that barely paid enough for room and board. One of these hopefuls that Bell puts into perspective is Djuro Kracha. In the novel Kracha comes to America with nothing and works hard for many years in a steel mill. After some time, Kracha becomes a prosperous entrepreneur of a butcher shop. However, through a series of events, he loses everything: his wife, his business, his land, his home, and his children. Why did these things happen? He brought upon himself the downfall because of his inability to resist temptation.

Kracha is a hard working man. One of the underlying themes of Out of this Furnace is that hard work is supposed to be rewarded. Unfortunately, in the late 1800s, one had to more than just work to become successful. Luckily, Kracha is also a smart man. He sees an opportunity to start a business and runs away with it. However, from the very beginning, we can see that Kracha has two weaknesses. His first is Zuska Mihula, a dark and mysterious woman he cannot keep his eyes off of. Later on, the reader is clued in to how much he really likes her when he is talking with his old friend Dubik. I would have given every penny I had for half an hour alone with her (13). Kracha has spent all of his money on liquor to celebrate Zuskas birthday. This explains why Kracha had to walk all the way form New York to White Haven. He used the alcohol to coerce her into having sex with him, but she would not concede to his desires. Later in the novel, she also causes him trouble, but this time it is his ruin. He has a secret affair with her, and naturally everyone finds out. When this news is discovered, Kracha loses all of his customers. In desperation, Kracha turns to his second weakness: alcohol.

Alcohol is a considerable part of Krachas life. He abuses it in different ways throughout the book. In one instance he capitalizes on the human addiction to alcohol to gain a job. He offers he Irishman a drink as a bribe for a job. The Irishman replies, I never refuse a drink. Then Dubik and Kracha laughed heartily at this confession of human weakness (29). In another instance, Mike Dobrejcak is down because of Bryans Presidential loss. To comfort him, Kracha believes that alcohol will cheer him up, and says, Now come on, I buy you a drink. The world hasnt come to an end (67). It seems as though alcohol can heal everything. When his world falls around him, Kracha goes on to drinking steadily (90) in his self pity. Eventually, he starts beating his second wife, Zuska. However, he was unable to remember all that happened that memorable summer, possibly because during its two most crowded months [in the butchers shop] he was continuously drunk (107).

In the start of his downfall Kracha could not resist Zuska. This caused him to lose his business. In the end, he could not resist the alcohol in his self-pity. An immigrant that did not know English in the late 1800s could have been prosperous as Kracha has shown. Unfortunately, his lack of resistance to temptation brought about his eventual ruin.

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