Study Guide

In Dubious Battle Chapter 10

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 10

  • Things are not much better in the a.m. The workers need to work, and sitting around is just making them dispirited.
  • Mac knows that if the workers don't move, they'll start fighting each other. He asks London to get Dakin to make the men picket.
  • Jim is very eager to get in with the picketers, as Mac promised he could. Mac would rather keep Jim by his side, but gives him permission to go.
  • Mac tells Jim that Dakin might have been a bad choice for boss-in-chief. It seems that Dakin has too much to lose (like his shiny truck), and doesn't really have his heart in it. He concludes that they should try to get London in as the head honcho.
  • Jim goes off with about 50 men to picket the orchards. Sam is with them and acts as their leader. We find out that Sam was with the longshoremen on Bloody Thursday in San Francisco. He's into fruit now because he'd been blacklisted by all the U.S. shipping companies.
  • When they get to the orchard, Sam spots some apple boxes down one of the rows. Some of the scabs are trying to work secretly.
  • Sam leads the men down the row and tells them not to gang up on the scabs right away. The checker meets them—he has a shotgun at his side—and asks if they want to work.
  • Sam speaks to the scabs and asks if they want to come over to their side and strike. There is a tense standoff between the picketers and the checker, during which the checker takes up his gun.
  • Sam tackles the checker and disables him—and then the picketers attack the scabs. Jim manages to take down one of the scabs by throwing a rock at him.
  • The men beat the scabs pretty soundly—body parts are hanging at awkward angles—but Sam demands that the picketers not kill anyone.
  • But then the big guns come after the picketers. They run for cover, but Jim takes a shot in the shoulder.
  • Jim's also badly shaken by the violence. Sam helps him along back toward the camp, but the police are already on their way. The men have to hide in the ditch along the road until they pass.
  • When they get back to the camp, Mac is blazing mad that Jim has been hurt. He believes he should have kept Jim by his side.
  • Doc Burton tends to Jim's wound, which isn't as bad as it could have been, and tells him to chill for a couple of days.
  • Jim tells Mac what happened out at the orchard. It's clear that Jim is affected by the violence, and Mac is quick to point out that the violence is necessary.
  • Mac also tells Jim that Dakin has suffered two losses: his truck and his boss-dom.
  • Vigilantes waylaid Dakin on the way in from town with a load of blankets for camp and destroyed the truck. Dakin lost his composure and humiliated himself in front of the men. Plus, he was shot in the leg. When the cops picked him up, Dakin assaulted them and is now in jail. London will get the vote from the men now.
  • Meanwhile, food runs low at the camp. Dick has not sent any food for the day, and a crisis approaches. Still, the men have more energy now after the confrontation.
  • Jim tells Mac he has to chill: he's worrying about everything in the world—first the food, and then the weather (it's clouding up). Mac doesn't want to lose the strike.
  • Jim reassures Mac and pulls out some of his learning to support his ideas. He tells Mac about the Battle of Salamis.
  • It's the Greeks vs. the Persians, and the Greeks are having a bad time of it. Their ships are caught in the harbor, and the men want to retreat.
  • The Greek Admiral sends word to the enemy to press the Greeks even harder—and when they do, his men have no choice but to fight. And they win. Spectacularly.
  • Mac likes this story and files it away for another day. He also laments that the student is doing the teaching.

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