Printing History
First published in the United States of America by Covici, Friede, Inc., 1936
Copyright John Steinbeck, 1936
Copyright renewed John Steinbeck, 1964

Main Characters
Jim Nolan wants to join the Party
Mrs. Meer Jim's landlady
Harry Nilson Party official
Roy Nolan Jim's father (killed three years earlier)
Mr. Webb Manager at Tulman's Department Store, where Jim worked
May Nolan Jim's older sister
Mac McLeod Party organizer
Dick Halsing "pretty boy" party member
Joy insane, aggressive party member
Alfred Anderson Owner/operator of Al's Lunch Wagon
London leader of pickers at the Talbot place
Sam "lean-face", a picker
Lisa London's daughter-in-law
Dan and old picker, one-time top-faller
Dakin leader of pickers at the Hunter place
Alla Dakin's wife
Jerry a picker at Hunter's who favors strike
Al Anderson Alfred's father, small farm owner
Doc Burton Party sympathizer; serves as camp Health Officer
Burke Dakin's assistant
Albert Johnson truck owner
Bolter President of the Fruitgrower's Association

Notes and Links
Amazon books: In Dubious Battle

Book Blurb — Penguin 1986
An extraordinary exploration of the power of the mob—for good and for evil

In the California apple country, nine hundred migratory workers rise up "in dubious battle" against the landowners. The group takes on a life of its own—stronger than its individual members and more frightening. Led by the doomed Jim Nolan, the strike is founded on his tragic idealism—on the "courage never to submit or yield."

"In Dubious Battle cannot be dismissed as a 'propaganda' novel—it is another version of the eternal human fight against injustice. It is an especially good version, dramatically intense, beautifully written. It is the real thing; it has a vigor of sheer storytelling that may sweep away many prejudices."

The New Republic

Opening Quotation
Innumerable force of Spirits armed,
That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power opposed
In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven
And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?
All is not lost—the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?

Chapter Summary
1 Jim Nolan leaves his rooming house in the City. Party official Harry Nilson interviews him.
2 Harry introduces Jim to Mac, Dick and Joy. Mac puts Jim to work typing letters.
3 Joy gets arrested. Mac and Jim prepare to go to Torgas Valley.
4 Mac and Jim board a freight train. They eat at Al's Lunch Wagon, then jungle up. They deliver a baby and the jungle helps out.
5 Jim meets old Dan picking at the Talbot place. Jim and Mac hook up with London. They drive to the Hunter place and talk to Dakin about a strike.
6 Talk of a strike. The checker tries to buy Jim. Old Dan gets injured. Strike plans. A visit to Al's father's place.
7 Dick and Doc Burton arrive from the City. The orchard superintendent cajoles, then threatens.
8 Election of Dakin as General Chairman of the strike. Construction of the camp. Doc and Mac discuss social philosophy (group-man). Jim and Mac nearly captured. Someone's a snitch.
9 Strikers head to town to meet a trainload of scabs. Joy gets killed. Al's Lunch Wagon burned down.
10 Sam heads a picket group to stop some scabs. Jim gets shot in the shoulder. London takes over for Dakin (who is jailed).
11 Food shipments to the camp end. No more carbolic disinfectant. Joy's coffin arrives. Very heavy rain.
12 Old Dan's injuries worsen. Joy's funeral.
13 Dick finds food. Jim and Mac slaughter and butcher some cows. Growers Association President Bolter shows up. Anderson's barn burned. Sam vows to burn Hunter's home. Doc is missing. Mac beats up a kid vigilante. Mac writes for help.
14 The men want out. Two teams fail to run barricades. Old Dan near death; Lisa cares for him. London busts Burke's jaw. The men smash the barricade, nearly turn on Mac for calling them yellow.
15 Jim and Mac head over to Anderson's place. Al wants to join the party. Al's dad tells them to get off his place. The sheriff shows up in a dump truck, threatens force. The men want to revote on the strike. Jim and Mac tricked into looking for Doc. Jim's face blown off. Mac addresses the men.

Stephan Steinbeck