In Dubious Battle
In Dubious Battle is a novel by John Steinbeck, written in 1936. The central figure of the story is an activist for "the Party" which also is a name for The American Communist Party, although it is never specifically named in the novel. This communist party are organizing a major strike by the workers, seeking thus to attract followers to his cause. The writer's sympathies were clearly with the strikers. He pictured them as exploited both by the capitalists and the Communists.
In Dubious Battle deals with a fruit strike in Torgas Valley in California and the attempts of radical leaders to organize, lead, and provide for the striking pickers. There are two main characters in the book; Jim & Mac. But perhaps the most important, although not the central, character is Doc Burton, who helps the strikers and is concerned with seeing things as they exist, without labels of good and bad attached. At the beginning of the book Jim joins the Communist Party and Mac takes him along when he goes to try to agitate the pickers and incite them to strike after the growers association cuts their wages to fifteen cents.
The story goes on and Jim and Mac work with the migrants, especially London, to incite a strike for the wages to be raised back to what they were previously. They are also trying to recruit more party members as they go and develop a better organization locally. They are self-funded from donations from sympathizers and the earnings of party members. Mac is teaching Jim, so readers learn the motivation behind each action they take. When they first reach town, they visit a lunch wagon owned by a known sympathizer, Al Anderson, and learn where most of the migrants are camped. They will join them and work from within the ranks. They find the natural leader and take an opportunity to ingratiate themselves by helping London's daughter-in-law through a difficult childbirth. She has been denied entrance to the local...