Out of This Furnace

Out of This Furnace

Djuro “George” Kracha Character Analysis

George Kracha is an immigrant who leaves Hungarian-ruled Slovakia in 1881 to seek work in western Pennsylvania, where his relatives reside. Kracha is the father of Mary, Alice, and Anna, as well as Mike’s father-in-law, and Dobie’s grandfather. The first of the novel’s four major characters and the patriarch of the extended family at the center of the novel, Kracha is a deeply flawed person who drinks too much and is cruel and indifferent to his wife, Elena, and children. At the very beginning of the novel, he reveals his impetuous and lecherous nature when he squanders his money to woo Zuska during his journey to America. Unable to afford transportation, he walks to Pennsylvania, where he meets up with his sister, Francka and her husband, Andrei, and works on the railroad. Kracha eventually moves with his family first to Homestead and then to Braddock, where he gets a job in a steel mill. As a first-generation immigrant from a peasant background, Kracha speaks no English and functions as a symbol of Old Country ethnic Slovak culture. His “greenhorn” status also relegates him to the most dangerous, unskilled work in the mill. Kracha comes from a minority group in Slovakia and is therefore distrustful of all authority; he wants only to earn a living and makes little effort to “Americanize” or vote, while the reigning culture encourages immigrants to shed their ethnic identities and assimilate into American society. He also serves as a repository of information that helps Dobie learn about his own Slovak heritage, reinforcing Kracha’s status as a symbol that connects the Old Country to America and preserves old traditions for new generations. After a series of financial mishaps and failed businesses, he goes back to work in the mill until he retires. He spends his remaining years living with Mary and Mike, then Julie and Dobie, until his death from a stroke. His experience epitomizes both the internal and external cultural barriers that prevented eastern European immigrants from fully integrating into American society.

Djuro “George” Kracha Quotes in Out of This Furnace

The Out of This Furnace quotes below are all either spoken by Djuro “George” Kracha or refer to Djuro “George” Kracha. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Pittsburgh Press edition of Out of This Furnace published in 1941.
Part 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

It was America, of course, but he would not feel himself really in America until he was in White Haven, secure in a job and a place to live.

Related Characters: Djuro “George” Kracha
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 1, Chapter 5 Quotes

She had to work hard, cooking, washing, scrubbing; and what pleasure did she ever get? Women had a hard time of it, Dubik said. Put yourself in her place. How would you like to live her life, eh?

Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 1, Chapter 7 Quotes

I work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, until there are times when I couldn't tell you my own name. And every other Sunday the long turn, twenty-four hours straight in the mill. Jezis!, what a life!

Related Characters: Joe Dubik (speaker), Djuro “George” Kracha, Joe Dubik, Andrej Sedlar
Related Symbols: Steel Mills
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 1, Chapter 9 Quotes

These were the same people who snorted disrespectfully when they were reminded that in books and speeches Carnegie had uttered some impressive sounds about democracy and workers' rights.

Related Symbols: Steel Mills, Unions
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 1, Chapter 10 Quotes

Hope sustained him, as it sustained them all; hope and the human tendency to feel that, dreadful though one's circumstances might be at the moment, there were depths of misfortune still unplumbed.

Related Characters: Djuro “George” Kracha
Related Symbols: Steel Mills
Page Number: 47-48
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 4, Chapter 9 Quotes

The very things the Irish used to say about the Hunkies the Hunkies now say about the niggers. And for no better reason.

Related Symbols: Steel Mills, Unions
Page Number: 330
Explanation and Analysis:
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Djuro “George” Kracha Character Timeline in Out of This Furnace

The timeline below shows where the character Djuro “George” Kracha appears in Out of This Furnace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 1
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
In 1881, George Kracha, a Slovak peasant from a small village in the Austro-Hungarian empire, begins his journey to... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 2
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
When Kracha arrives in New York, he bids farewell to Zuska and John at the immigration port,... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
After a week of walking, Kracha arrives in a town and learns from a Swedish lumberjack that it is indeed White... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 3
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Kracha tells them about his journey, but claims he had to walk because a thief robbed... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 4
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
In March, Kracha receives word from a priest in the old country that his wife, Elena, gave birth... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Women’s Work Theme Icon
Elena arrives in White Haven in February of the next year. Kracha is dismayed to find her “thin and pale” and suffering from an unsightly goiter, a... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 5
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
Kracha continues working for the railroad, where he builds, repairs, and maintains the rails and surrounding... (full context)
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
Women’s Work Theme Icon
Capital vs. Labor Theme Icon
Kracha misses his friend, and Dubik’s absence saddens Elena, as he frequently urged Kracha (to little... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
After a full year, Kracha finally joins his friends from White Haven by moving to Homestead to seek work in... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 6
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
Francka leads Kracha and his family through the streets of Braddock, and Elena comments on the acrid smoke... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
...walk, a drunk taunts them in slurred Slovak by calling them “greenhorns.” Francka leads the Krachas to her home, which only has one room. Rent is high and accommodations are scarce,... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 7
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
Kracha wishes to see his friend Dubik, but the Braddock mills run constantly. After receiving his... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
...of finding a house. Dubik entertains the idea of settling on a small farm, but Kracha says he got his fill of farming in the old country. “You will get your... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 9
Capital vs. Labor Theme Icon
...Henry Clay Frick to break the striking union at the Homestead mill during contract negotiations. Kracha has little interest in the strike but Andrej warns him that the fate of all... (full context)
Capital vs. Labor Theme Icon
...of 1892 begins as a peaceful lockout. On July 6, however, the mill’s whistle awakens Kracha to the sound of violence. Frick sends armed Pinkerton guards to reopen the plant, resulting... (full context)
Capital vs. Labor Theme Icon
Fed up with the chaos in Homestead, Kracha asks Dubik to secure him a job in the Braddock steel mill. The Krachas move... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 10
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Kracha works dutifully in Braddock just as he did in Homestead. “The company lost no opportunity... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 11
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Dubik and Kracha walk to the steel mill on a steaming August day. Dubik tells Kracha that he... (full context)
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
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Dubik tries to speak, but his scorched face cracks. He tells Kracha not to take him home, lest Dorta see him so badly burnt, so Kracha takes... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 12
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
Dubik’s horrific death weighs heavily on Kracha. A few weeks after the accident, he, Dorta, and Mike are talking in Dorta’s kitchen.... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Women’s Work Theme Icon
After Kracha lets Dorta talk for a while, he tells her that he wants to purchase Mrs.... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 13
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Women’s Work Theme Icon
Kracha initially prospers, and while the multiple expenses he must pay are worrying, he is nonetheless... (full context)
Women’s Work Theme Icon
...After she returns from the doctor, she proceeds to “withdraw more and more into herself.” Kracha makes only superficial efforts to comfort Elena, and occasionally feels “stirrings of pity for what... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 14
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
Capital vs. Labor Theme Icon
Of more concern to Kracha is Mike’s growing attraction to politics during the 1896 presidential election, especially the leftist politics... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 15
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
After Greek Easter, Kracha is filling out an order in his butcher shop when a woman enters and requests... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 16
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
Zuska’s appearance makes Kracha reexamine his opinions about adultery. Technically, he has always been faithful to Elena, but this... (full context)
Women’s Work Theme Icon
Now, however, with Zuska a penniless widow and himself a successful businessman, Kracha waits for the right opportunity to take advantage of his good fortune. Over the course... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 17
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
...threw her out for being a tempting presence to his boarders. At the butcher shop, Kracha teases Zuska about her eviction and they continue to flirt. Eventually, Kracha asks to visit... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 18
Women’s Work Theme Icon
After a month of Kracha and Zuska clumsily sneaking around her children to conduct their affair, Zuska moves into a... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 19
Women’s Work Theme Icon
Kracha spends the next week away from home but continues his affair with Zuska. When he... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
Soon, the whole neighborhood knows about the affair, costing Kracha several customers at his butcher shop. He stubbornly carries on, but soon he learns that... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 20
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
Women’s Work Theme Icon
Shortly after the New Year’s holiday, Elena becomes gravely ill and retreats to her bed. Kracha stays by her side while the doctor examines her. When Borka asks if they should... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 21
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
Kracha misses Elena, but only as an acquaintance, for “she had long since ceased to be... (full context)
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
Following the news of the Maine’s destruction, Kracha visits Zuska at her house. She tells him she is pregnant. Overwhelmed with his troubles,... (full context)
Part 1, Kracha: Chapter 22
Women’s Work Theme Icon
Mary greets Kracha when he is released from jail and brings him clean clothes. They arrive at Dorta’s... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Women’s Work Theme Icon
Kracha begins to unload his woes onto Dorta when she asks him if it was true... (full context)
Part 2, Mike Dobrejcak: Chapter 1
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
...are Slovaks or other non-English-speaking immigrants, and none of them holds a skilled job. Unlike Kracha, who lives in America but never really assimilates into America, Mike learns to read and... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
...on the Slovaks, their disdain “epitomized in the epithet ‘Hunky.’” The first generation of Slovaks, Kracha’s generation, were an “oppressed minority” in their home country and expected nothing from America besides... (full context)
Part 2, Mike Dobrejcak: Chapter 7
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
...Ward, leaving behind a foul-smelling muck. As the ward residents clean up after the flood, Kracha comes to visit Mike and Mary. He and Mike discuss the railroad building an extension... (full context)
Part 2, Mike Dobrejcak: Chapter 14
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
Shortly after the new year arrives, Kracha fractures his arm while piling up scrap at the steel mill. His injury earns him... (full context)
Part 3, Mary: Chapter 2
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
Women’s Work Theme Icon
...and dirty as Braddock is. Meanwhile, Mary is in dire financial straits and suggests to Kracha that she move to Homestead and that he should come to live with her. Still... (full context)
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
Women’s Work Theme Icon
...she had no ties; one place was like another and nowhere would she be missed.” Kracha arrives at Mary’s new home a few days later. He is grumpy and looks disapprovingly... (full context)
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Mary discusses Kracha’s refusal to pay more rent with Francka, explaining that when people confront her like that,... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
...be molded into different shapes. The glass factory pays Johnny fifteen cents an hour, which Kracha grumbles is more than he got when he came to America. (full context)
Part 3, Mary: Chapter 3
Women’s Work Theme Icon
...Johnny’s job brought in, especially with the war causing a jump in prices. She asks Kracha to pay more for his boarding, to which he responds with predicable griping and grumbling.... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
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...to her formerly vigorous self. Finally, they arrive at the police station, where they find Kracha soaked, still drunk, and penniless—his payday money has either been stolen or spent in the... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
When they arrive home, Kracha collapses into bed and Mary begins to cry because they have no Christmas presents. Johnny... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
...apprentice armature winder in the North Braddock steel mill. Though reluctant to move and lose Kracha’s boarding fee, Mary also wants to get rid of Kracha. They move back to Braddock... (full context)
Part 3, Mary: Chapter 6
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
...developments back home. John still works in his saloon-turned-speakeasy, while Francka’s son, Andy, got married. Kracha is now boarding with Francka in Homestead, where she keeps him drunk on homemade moonshine.... (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 2
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
Capital vs. Labor Theme Icon
...to turn his saloon into a speakeasy that the authorities eventually shuttered. Perovsky’s misfortunes amused Kracha, who, “remembering the past, made a special trip to Braddock to view the spectacle.” Eventually,... (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 3
Women’s Work Theme Icon
Dobie jokingly comments on Julie’s thinness before bringing up the subject of his grandfather, Kracha. Dobie tells her about Kracha’s life, especially his tendency not to put his money in... (full context)
Capital vs. Labor Theme Icon
Kracha, however, had soldiered on, and Francka sent him to Woodville, where he somewhat recovered. From... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
After telling Julie the long saga of Kracha’s life, Dobie informs her that his grandfather is now living with him. He tells Julie... (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 4
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
...McKean Avenue window-shopping for stoves, blankets, and dishes. They need at least three rooms for Kracha to move in with them, and they discuss acquiring used furniture from family members, including... (full context)
Women’s Work Theme Icon
Dobie and Julie are married on a hot June day in the Greek Catholic Church. Kracha stays sober and Agnes is the maid of honor, although she is angry when she... (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 5
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
Capital vs. Labor Theme Icon
...anything.” He complains to her about Walsh’s uselessness to the lodge, and they listen as Kracha pumps water for his hillside garden while arguing with their Irish neighbor, Old Peg-Leg Cassidy. (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 6
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
...views of Braddock, North Braddock, the river and hills, and Kennywood Park on clear days. Kracha and his dog are brooding on the hillside while Julie waits in the kitchen. (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Women’s Work Theme Icon
...a get-together in a few weekends and asks Dobie and Julie to come along with Kracha. Agnes is also planning to make tomato butter and says that if Dobie wants some,... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Women’s Work Theme Icon
Soon, Kracha enters into the kitchen, and Dobie asks how his day went. He grumbles that Julie... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
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Kracha also grows to like talking with Julie, and over time she learns about the various... (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 8
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Capital vs. Labor Theme Icon
...have changed now that someone like him can hold a union meeting with management representatives. Kracha, irked by Dobie’s boasting, tells him that the Braddock mills were once unionized and had... (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 9
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
Industrialization and Destruction Theme Icon
That night, Dobie arrives home to find Kracha mending his shoes on the side porch. He has plans to visit Dorta, who still... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
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As Dorta and Kracha’s conversation turns toward the First Ward’s current, mostly black residents, their voices fill with scorn.... (full context)
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The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
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When they arrive at Dorta’s house, she and Kracha tell Dobie and Julie about how life was in the good old days of the... (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 10
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
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...Cassidy children runs up to tell them that something has happened. Old Peg-Leg has discovered Kracha “sprawled out on the kitchen doorstep, half in the house and half out.” He suffered... (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 13
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After the discussion, Julie, Dobie, and Kracha are driven back to the train station to catch a ride home. As they drive... (full context)
Immigration and American Identity Theme Icon
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...house. Dobie grabs Julie’s hand mirror for protection, then walks slowly until he arrives at Kracha’s door. He pushes the door open and sees his grandfather lying on the floor, his... (full context)
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The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
Dobie stares as Kracha “lifted himself on one arm, straining as though he had a whole world on his... (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 14
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Anna and John are the first to arrive for Kracha’s funeral, followed by Anna’s sons, Martin and Agnes with their new baby, Joe, Steve, Alice,... (full context)
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The group buries Kracha beside Pauline. The burial reminds Dobie of the many times “he had stood on that... (full context)
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...quality of the local Burlesque shows. Julie fixes the steak and potatoes and wonders what Kracha’s dog thinks about his master’s death. Mikie takes pictures of Dobie and Julie before he... (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 15
Women’s Work Theme Icon
One day, not long after Kracha’s funeral, Dobie arrives home to find Julie in a fit of excitement. She is wearing... (full context)
The American Dream vs. Reality Theme Icon
...while they are both overjoyed, they will have to keep track of spending now that Kracha’s pension payments have ceased. (full context)
Part 4, Dobie: Chapter 16
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...lives to the steel mills, people like Mike Dobrejcak, Mary Dobrejcak, Pauline, Joe Dubik, and Kracha, as well as “all the thousands of lives the mills had consumed as surely as... (full context)