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King Coal

Upton Sinclair

Book Overview: 

King Coal is a book by Upton Sinclair that exposes the dirty working conditions in the coal mining industry in the western United States during the 1910s. As in an earlier work, The Jungle, Sinclair expresses his socialist viewpoints from the perspective of a single protagonist, Hal Warner, caught up in the schemes and plots of the oppressive American capitalist system. The book itself is based on the 1914-1915 Colorado coal strikes. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .had gone some distance with her; he had been seen to walk out with her, he had been accounted her "fellow." He had led her to talk to him of herself—he had insisted upon having her confidences. And these people who were poor did not have subtleties, there was no room in their lives for intellectual curiosities, for Platonic friendships or philanderings. "Forgive me, Mary!" he said.

She made no answer; but a sob escaped her, and she drew back from his arms—slowly. He struggled with an impulse to clasp her again. She was beautiful, warm with life—and so much in need of happiness!

But he held himself in check, and for a minute or two they stood apart. Then he asked, humbly, "We can still be friends, Mary, can't we? You must know—I'm so sorry!"

But she could not endure being pitied. "'Tis nothin'," she said. "Only I thought I was going to get away! That's what ye mean to me."

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