The Flivver King A Story of Ford-America - Paper Example

Published: 2023-09-14
The Flivver King A Story of Ford-America - Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Automotive industry Personal leadership Historical & political figures
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1384 words
12 min read

Analysis of “The Flivver King A Story of Ford-America” The book Fliver King is a narrative by Upton Sinclair, on the founding of Ford Motors and the transition of Henry Ford, the founder. It is a narrative by a third-party narrator, who intertwines the story with the tales of a fictional worker named Banner Shutt at the company, from its initial years to the later successful years. This paper is an analysis of the book, the viewpoints, and perceptions of both Henry Ford and Abner Shutt, over time in the company.

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Henry Ford Before Success

The first part of the novel tells about the role of Henry Ford in the advent of the automobile industry. It demonstrates an ambitious dream to develop, automobiles that would revolutionize the globe and dominate the markets. The author describes Henry Ford as the model of change, with the idea of developing of a wagon with wheels, but never needing horses to run. This idea of the year 1900s later became a source of improvement for all sectors in the economy. He also contributed to the idea of hiring employees to enable them to support their families. Millions of workers are employed by the automobile industry all over the world, in the modern world.

Abner Shutt represents the workers at the Ford Company. He is introduced to the story early of the invention. The author describes Abner as an inquisitive child from Detroit, who always told his mother about, a man down the street who wanted to invest a "Wagon without the Horse". Despite her mother's doubts on the story, Banner, and the other boys in the neighborhood would visit Henry Ford to see him working the author, describes Henry Ford's character in Chapter One "One way of being nice was liking to talk to kids" (Sinclair, 1936). The author displays the outstanding quality, shown by Ford, who told the children, that just because an object had existed before, did not mean that it was impossible to invent. The views of Abner, on Henry Ford at this stage, was motivating. They viewed him as hardworking, focused, and caring. The author explains that the boys were puzzled that Henry Ford, worked until late at night. He always welcomed the boys and answered their questions, making them believe that he was a leader with the interests of others in his heart. The views are still the same over time even after the breakthrough of the invention. Henry Ford offers to hire local workers including Abner Shutt, giving them hope of a better life.

Sinclair describes the work, being done in Ford’s new assembly plant as unregulated and inhuman. Henry worked on, sales. He fired critics and all the people who were skeptical about his business model of dwelling in the production of cheaper automobiles, as opposed to the production of luxury automobiles. The company advanced and as he gradually turned into a billionaire, he turned the management of his assembly into an unfriendly place. He changed his ideology and could not associate directly with his workers. The working conditions were poor and he could not allow the workers to demand an upgrade. He employs a department that would oversee the assembly on his behalf. The service department is comprised of gang associations and spying agents. The evidence of Taylorism was seen in the assembly. He shifted from advising his workers to work harder to optimize the work, and rather, optimized and simplified the work, to increase the production. He employed many workers, making the wages of the existing workers, more little.

The narrative of the assembly, tells that the industrial work during that period was not guided by policies, present in the modern industrial fields. The absence of policies on human labor, made the few rich owners of companies exploit their workers, making them work hard for a little wage, in a poor environment.

Ford slowly seemed to portray a racist attitude that encouraged division and oppression. Sinclair describes the occurrence of social issues in American society that were shaped by the growth of Henry Ford's company at that time. His activities changed with the management policies that he invented. He changed from being a pacifist and embraced the anti-semitism. He supported the Nazi regime's agendas and was a key player in the circulation of the anti-semite flyers and pamphlets in America. He developed a selfish attitude and cared about his self-interests.He lays off the workers without following the right procedures in the assembly. During this time, the attitude of Abner about American society was slowly shifting from enthusiasm to disappointment. The change of Henry Ford’s behavior after their success shocked every employee who had known him in the past. His inspiration was no longer impacting Abner and his people. The workers felt disappointed by society. The dehumanizing of the assembly was synonymous to slavery, to many workers.

Shutt’s children end up working at Ford's Company, later, despite the torture, that Shutts and his family undergo. The children are entitled to some benefits, due to the costs that the parents had to face during all the phases of growth in the company. Shutts is disgraced, when he finally retires from the industry, feeling poorer than before. The patience during the periods of struggle, was however not in vain because his children received a priority during hiring in the industry. The pay-off is not satisfactory because john, one of Shut’s children, has to fight to maintain his middle-class life. Daisy his daughter, is disappointed like her father, when Ford, turns against her, while Hank, is recruited in the service department of Ford, as a spy. The payoffs can be considered to be greater, considering that, the youngest son, Tom, later ears a degree, and made a complaint on Ford Company’s acts of abuse on its workers to the United Automobile Workers’ Union.

Abner‘s attitude towards Henry Ford was changed by the fluctuation of his work ethics, as the company grew. Henry Ford became a selfish man, who introduced policies to dehumanize the assembly. He once lay off Abner. Ford is described by Sinclair as a changed man when he told Abner “Men work for money” and that He was not attempting to “Coddle with people” who worked with him.

According to Sinclair, the main issue in the story is the inequality in industrial firms, caused by a system under capitalistic ideas. Capitalistic ideas that are introduced by Henry Ford, make few people benefit, at the expense of many, who are working hard to optimize production. Abner is a representation of a worker suffering under capitalism. In the Novel, he loses his parents and is unable to give them a proper burial due to the economic situation. He undergoes depression and is recorded as "Thinking of the natural phenomenon, like winter itself” (Sinclair, 1937). He describes hard economic times as "Universal" and "Cruel”. Daisy and Milly in the story are overwhelmed by the care for home and family, due to a system that was not benefiting them.

The author ends the story with, Henry Ford, losing touch with people and the suffering that he had created in the society. He hoards wealth and lives in comfort at the expense of workers who worked hard in the assembly. Henry Ford advances his unethical management policies, and even hires goons to beat up Tom, an activist trying to fight the system (Sinclair, 1937). The author ends the story in this manner to emphasize the theme of inequality in industries and the need for the abolishment of the capitalistic policies that were selfish and dehumanized the workplaces.


The Fliver King is a narrative of an industrial ideology that changes the relationship between the industrialist and the worker. The author uses Henry Ford and Abner Schutt, a worker, who experienced the brutality of this system under the establishment of the Ford Company. He experiences a shift in work attitude in his employer, who was kind to him during the initial process of the invention of the automobile. The author explains the challenges of the system to American society and the workers. The conclusion, on the treatment that Schutt’s children receive after him, indicates that the ideologies of the policy, are affecting all generations.


Sinclair, U. (1937). The flivver king: A story of Ford-America. Selbstverl..

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