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This play is based around the strike at the Trenartha Tin Plate Works, which had, at the opening play, raged on for so long without any sign of ending. However, pressure is being placed on both sides to reach a compromise. The two leaders of the different sides, however, both are adamant and resolute that they will not be the ones to give in. Anthony, the company director, has already seen of several attempted strikes during his long term of office. Roberts has already sacrificed so much to the strike, and as he delivers a rousing speech to his fellow workers, he is told that his wife has died because of the conditions of the strike, which only makes him much more determined to continue the strike and to see victory for himself and the workers so that his wife might not have died in vain. However, Harness, the Trade Unions Official, manages to negotiate a settlement that finds Anthony outvoted by his colleagues and Roberts discovering that his workers had voted on a settlement without his knowledge. The play ends with both of these men, so opposed to each other over the issue of the strike, finding common ground in the way that they have been deserted by their followers and betrayed by the resolution that their people have opted for. Note how this sudden sense of unity is expressed in the stage directions:
ANTHONY rises with an effort. He turns to ROBERTS who looks at him. They stand several seconds, gazing at each other fixedly; ANTHONY lifts his hand, as though to salute, but lets it fall. The expression of ROBERTS'S face changes from hostility to wonder. They bend their heads in token of respect.
Hatred turns to admiration and respect as both realise the similarity in their situations and appreciate the battle that the other has fought. Galsworthy seems to argue in this play that self-interest and moderation will always conquer in the end, but there will human casualties to such a diplomatic approach, and Anthony and Roberts are two such casualties.
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