The Worker as Warrior

Social Class and Political Betrayal in Literature from Homer to Heller
  • Patricia Keeton
  • Peter Scheckner


The inherent class conflict between the worker turned warrior and his warlords is as old as war and class society itself, and long before the invention of cinema, this discord found its expression in other forms of art and culture—including the very beginning of our literature. About 27 hundred years ago at the end of Bronze Age, the Iliad, the earliest work in Western literature, portrays a nasty quarrel between an ordinary Greek soldier and his commander over the spoils of war. Since then, up to the present, literature, far more acutely and consistently than cinema, has embedded the issue of social class in its narrative and language. Literature, after all, bears a far lesser financial and even political burden than Hollywood studios: books do not have to reach a mass audience to recoup multi-million-dollar production costs as movies do. Given the huge number of both mainstream and alternative publishing houses, books are not necessarily held hostage to wealthy investors and therefore can generally escape the political constraints to which movies and television are often subject.


Class Nature Western Literature Educational Exhibit American Film Academy Award 
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Copyright information

© Patricia Keeton and Peter Scheckner 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Keeton
  • Peter Scheckner

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