How does Yank identify himself with Steel in The Hairy Ape?

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      Yank finds a closer affinity with himself and steel. He considers himself to be as powerful and energetic as the steel. He claims himself as the producer of steel which constitutes the main strength of a ship. He is also in the steel that is used for making skyscrapers. He belongs to the ship and makes it move. For Yank, only men of steel-not the rich cowards-can make it move safely and effectively.

      Yank is the part and parcel of the very process of steel-making. It is Yank who makes iron into steel and all that is correlated with this process of conversion. He is totally identified with steel: “And I’m steel-steel-steel! I’m de muscles in steel, de punch behind it”!

      He is “steel and steam and smoke and the rest of it”.

      Yank’s bitter experience at the I.W.W. office proves to be a turning point in his life. All his plan of wrecking Mildred’s father’s steel trust is disapproved of by the Secretary of the I.W.W. When asked to tell his name, he wants time to recall it: “Le’mme link”. He has total misunderstood the mission of this organization which beliefs in peaceful-not violent-methods of solving labor problems. For Yank, I.W.W. stands for the International Wreckers of the World. He wants to join it for the sole purpose of shooting and killing the rich capitalists only.

      The Secretary of I.W.W. is finally fed up with Yank’s evasive replies and the violent approach for seeking personal revenge.

      He is particularly stunned to note that Yank wants to “blow up the factory, de works where he makes de steel” to show it to Mildred that the hairy ape has done it. The Secretary thinks him to be an agent provocateur and calls him a brainless fellow. He is thrown out and once more he sits like Rodin’s “The Thinker”.

      Yank calls I.W.W. a weak organization run by persons having no courage and unfit for solving the labour-disputes. He also realizes that he is not strong enough to settle scores with Mildred who belongs to the all-powerful capitalist class. He is no more steel but a helpless petty worker having no individuality or self-respect. His final realization is: “Steel was me, and I owned de woild. Now I ain’t steel, an’ de wiold”. This is how Yank’s identification with steel comes to an end.

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