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Yank who is a fireman in a steamer ship has been reduced to the state of an animal. Long hours of shovelling coal to feed the furnaces in the stokehole of the steamer have reduced him to an almost neanderthal state:"the natural stooping posture which shovelling coal and the resultant overdevelopment of back and shoulder muscles have given them."Sc.1. Physically, he is thus held down by the circumstances and the environement of his work place.
Socially, he is suppressed and oppressed by the rich capitalist class represented by Mildred Douglas: "-them lazy,bloated swine what travels first cabin? Them's the ones.They dragged us down 'til we're on'y wage slaves in the bowels of a bloody ship sweatin', burnin', eatin', coal dust." Long in Sc.1.
Mentally, he is held down by his own short sighted vision of his world view. Having spent most of his life shovelling coal in the steamer he is not able to see beyond the limitations of the engine room of the steamer:"I'm at de bottom, get me! Dere ain't nothin' foither. I'm de end! Sc1.
Emotionally, he is held down by his own distorted imagination which prevents him from accepting the reality of his imprisonment in Sc.6 and makes him conclude that he is in prison because of Mildred's father:"Sure-her old man.....and cage me in for her to spit on."
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