The War in Passaic- Mary Heaton Vorse . By Angus Robinson. Industrial Disputes in America in 1920’s.
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Industrial Strikes in America were made because they wanted an increase in pay, be paid for working overtime, decent, humane working conditions, no discrimination against union workers and a return of the money they had been docked since the pay cuts.
An example of the industrial strike was when textile workers went on hunger strike because their pay had been docked 10%. They were the lowest paid workers in America at this time; earning just $12 a week. While their factory owners were some of the richest men in America.
The slightly more well paid families only earned $15-$20 a week, hardly enough to feed a family.
A number of factories went on marches and other factories joined them along the way for a peaceful protest reaching numbers of up to 3,000 people.
Police would try and brutally suppress these peaceful parades by beating innocent people with batons and when that didn’t work they would use firemen's hoses to send people back.
The style of writing is informative, telling us about the terrible conditions factory workers have to work in and the low pay they receive for it-often using facts to do so.
Vorses' style is also colourful and emotive with its emotive descriptions of the strikers ‘the undimmed enthusiastic mill children’. In contrast, she writes powerfully about the ‘clubbings’ protesters received yet their spirit not being ‘dimmed’ by this violence.
The vocabulary used is very powerful, with use of onomatopoeic words like ‘smashing’ and ‘smashed’ which is often repeated. Other powerful words such as ‘dragged’ ‘hopeless’ and ‘blurred by fatigue’ all emphasise Vorse’s sympathy with the strikers.
From the beginning of the text Vorse uses the present tense in the declarative statement ‘the strike of the textile workers is a strike of hunger’’. This immediately sets the tone by Vorse giving her emotive point of view, thus showing her point of view is towards the workers.
Vorse’s use of statistics adds a factual basis to her argument, for example when she quotes the low wages of the workers.
Effective use of repetition is made when Vorse repeats the phrase ‘that is why’ to explain the workers actions. This reinforces the strikers actions.
Vorse uses descriptive outlines of the weather to evoke sympathy as the workers protest in the ‘winter slush and snow’. She even likens the strikers’ movements by using the simile ‘rolled up like a snowball’.
She uses lists on a number of occasions to set out her argument. For example in when she lists the struggles American workers had to go through; ‘the bearing of many children, the constant fight against poverty, the existence in over crowded, unaired rooms, the long, grilling, inhuman hours of night work’.
Imagine you are a textile worker, arguing from the point of the view that your wages should be increased. Write a speech to give to your factory owner and fellow factory owners on why you and your co-workers should receive more pay.