A Comparison of the Legacy of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring

A Comparison of the Legacy of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring

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1906 would see the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, pushing through major reforms of the meatpacking industry and eventually causing the government to take actions to protect the health of its people; almost fifty years later, the publication of Rachel Carson's novel Silent Spring would invoke a similar, but changed response to the threat of DDT. Although both would lead to government legislation creating major changes, the original intentions of the authors themselves differed, as well as their satisfaction of the results. However, both still leave a legacy for today, as legislation still stands that reflects the widespread reform that ensued. Both Silent Spring and The Jungle, would have wide reaching influences, but with different motivations and different goals in mind.
Although Silent Spring and The Jungle would both create similar reforms, their authors would have much different motivations for writing them. Rachel Carson, before publishing Silent Spring, would major in marine zoology at Pennsylvania Women's College, where she would develop her interest in the naturalism and conservation going on at the time (Lear, 23). After graduating, she would take a job at the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, where she would write about different issues concerning the environment at the time. After writing several books to some success, she would begin work on Silent Spring, as it she would find her naturalist causes to be her impetus. She even later on in her life write to her friends, What I discovered was that everything which meant most to me as a naturalist was being threatened, and that nothing I could do would be more important."(Carson, 17) On the contrary, however, Sinclair would not find his motivation...


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.... Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair. Boston. Random House, 2006.

Carson, Rachel. Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman 1952-1964 An Intimate Portrait of a Remarkable Friendship. New York. Beacon Press, 1995

Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. New York. Houghton Mifflin, 1964.

Lear, Linda. Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature, Henry Holt, New York, 1997, Owl Books paperback 1998

Murphy,Priscilla Coit. What a Book Can Do: The Publication and Reception of Silent Spring, Amherst. University of Massachusetts Press. 2005

Reed, Lawrence W. "Of Meat and Myth," The Freeman. November 1994

Sinclair, Upton Jr. The Jungle. Mass Market Paperback. New York. Reprinted 2004, 1906.

Young, James Harvey, "The Pig That Fell into the Privy: Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Meat Inspection Amendments of 1906," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 1985.

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