Thomas Bell, author of Out of This Furnace, grew up in the steel mill town of Braddock, Pennsylvania. His novel reflects the hardships faced by his family during the time when the mills ruled the area. The book also focuses upon the life of immigrant workers struggling to survive in the "new country." All events in Bell's novel are fictional, however, they create a very realistic plot and are based somewhat upon a true story. In this novel, Bell refutes capitalistic ideals and the lack of a republican form of government by showing the struggles and success of immigrant steelworkers.
The speakers also mentioned that the Brooklyn Bridge opening was "a day to celebrate Progress" (Krause). It is important to remember that capitalists and workers strove toward different ideas of progress in Out of This Furnace. While progress for the capitalists meant the further supremacy of man over nature or the unchecked accumulation of wealth, progress for the workers simply meant an improvement in their way of life and an opportunity for equality. These different viewpoints were perhaps the main cause of the disputes between the two classes. It should also be noted that the workers were not entirely anti-progress or anti-capitalist, but they did have certain problems with the way the capitalists ran their businesses and tried to control the local government.
Out of This Furnace is Thomas Bell’s most compelling achievement
Out of This Furnace shows how the mill workers organized themselves and eventually overcame the capitalists to provide better lives for themselves and hope for generations to come. It also shows the improvement in living conditions, equality, and political freedom experienced by the last generation of Bell's characters, which was a great victory for the working class. One character stated his view of the changes in this way: