John Howard Lawson was torn apart with conflict and inner doubt, even though his life was driving inescapably to a resolution. Harold Clurman “watched with shock and anger” as Lawson was upbraided by Communists and leftists at a meeting of the radical John Reed Club. Though Clurman had become not only a staunch supporter but one of his severest critics, it was scathing criticism from another corner that pushed Lawson definitely and defiantly toward a more unbendable commitment. Organizing writers and sojourning in the South deepened his “conviction that commitment is essential to the artist's creative growth; what we call the sensibility of the artist is deadened if he does not respond generously to the human reality that surrounds him; to observe and report, to laugh or weep, are not enough.” Lawson was “fired” from MGM because of his union organizing. Still, he was “popular” as a union leader.
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