Study Guide

In Dubious Battle Chapter 7

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 7

  • Dick and Doc Burton show up at the orchard in the morning. Dick is dressed to impress, and Mac provides him with a list of local sympathizers who will donate to the cause if asked.
  • Mac asks Doc Burton to head over to Anderson's farm and lay out an orderly camp for the workers. The goal is to keep order and sanitation under control so the authorities can't oust them.
  • Mac has decided that Dakin should be general chairman of the strike committee—the "boss-in-chief"—but he has to convince London that it's a good idea. And he does, because London concedes that he has a bad temper, and what they need is a cool head.
  • The superintendent shows up with two armed guards and wants to speak to London. London lets him in the tent, but tells him to leave his goons outside.
  • The super tries to convince London that Mac and Jim are "reds" and don't really care about London and the workers. They just want to stir up trouble.
  • But London sees through the super's words. He asks if they'll cut the wages they're asking for if he asks the "reds" to leave. Of course not, says the super.
  • But the super is willing to offer a bribe: get the workers back in line and there's a better job for London and some money for Mac and Jim. Otherwise, they'll be kicked out and "escorted" by an army of deputy sheriffs. And the growers will make sure that the workers can never get other jobs. Ever.
  • Mac lets all of this sink into London's brain—but not for too long. He tells London they should hold a meeting and see what the guys think of the super's offer.
  • The super knows he'll be strung up by his heels if his offer gets out, and he flares up. But Mac puts him back in his place by telling him about the Anderson farm.
  • Mac also tells the super that the workers will burn their farms to the ground if anything happens to Anderson or his farm.
  • The super calls "threat of murder" on Mac, but Mac points out that the super has no witnesses to it. Bam.
  • After the super leaves, Mac riles up the crowd of workers by telling them about the bribe offered to London. That energizes them for the move to Anderson's farm.
  • There's anger in the air as the men work together, but there's also energy and a kind of joy. Mac addresses the committee in London's tent and tells them of the need for discipline among the workers.
  • But the committee members balk: they don't like the idea of military-style leaders of "squads" and don't think the men will respond well.
  • Mac insists that they'll have to have leaders, anyway, or the strike will fold because of fighting. Also, the men will be fighting their own war—not someone else's—so they'll respond better.
  • In the end, Mac convinces the men of the need for discipline. But then there's the matter of Jim. He's been right by Mac's side, but not doing much. He's getting restless.

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