Study Guide

In Dubious Battle Chapter 3

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 3

  • Dick returns the house one day while Jim is still working at typing letters. Dick has some disturbing news: Joy has been arrested for stabbing a police officer.
  • Mac goes into crisis mode—Joy has a rap sheet a mile long and will probably be "sent away" permanently—so he begins to mobilize their resources to help Joy.
  • Once the rescue posse is set, Mac tells Jim that they'll be heading down to Torgas Valley (don't bother Googling it: it's made up).
  • The fruit pickers there have just suffered a pay cut from the Growers' Association, and Mac wants to agitate for a strike. He means for Jim to come along and learn from him.
  • Mac explains that most of the orchards are in the hands of a few men and thousands of workers flock there to pick apples during harvest time. Then they move on to cotton.
  • Mac wants to rile up the discontented workers in the orchard so that they'll continue pushing for change on the cotton farms.
  • The workers are even unhappier because they'd spent all their money traveling to the orchards before the growers announced the pay cut. They have to work, since they're broke. But they don't like it.
  • Jim wonders what will happen if the growers just raise the wages. Mac says that a labor dispute that ends too quickly won't be good for the men, since they have to learn to work together.
  • Mac says that a little violence would be extra good, since it will help the men stick together. Then the Party would pay for the funerals and earn the good will of the workers. Yikes.
  • Mac's actually pretty excited about the possibility of federal troops being called up to contain the workers. While the workers would lose, it would be good for the cause in the long run.
  • Mac ends his fantasy version of events in the Valley by telling Jim he'll need some jeans if he's going to work in the orchards and cozy up to the fruit pickers there.
  • Jim is in love with the idea of fighting along with other men. It's different from the trouble that his father got into as a result of his anger.

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