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Critical Analysis of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle

The Jungle is a novel that focuses on a family of immigrants who came to America looking for a better life. The novel was written by Upton Sinclair, who went into the Chicago stockyards to investigate what life was like for the people who worked there. The book was originally written with the intent of showing Socialism as a better option than Capitalism for the society. However, the details of the story ended up launching a government investigation of the meat packing plants, and ultimately regulation of food products. It gave an informative view of what life was like in America at the time. Important topics like immigration, working conditions and sanitation issues of the time were all addressed well in the novel.

Immigration was one of the heavy themes in the novel, including where immigrants came from and why they came to America, and how they were treated once they got here. The story is about a man from Lithuania, Jurgis Rudkus, who takes his family to America in hopes of attaining the American Dream. A family he knows has lost all their money to creditors in Lithuania and now have nowhere to live, but a member of the family, Jonas, talks about how a friend he knows who immigrated to America and had great success. The majority of the immigrants who came to America at this period, during the Industrial Revolution, were mainly “Lithuanians, Poles, Slovaks, or Bohemians” (28). Before them it was the Irish, and then before them the immigrants mostly coming to America were German (70). The reason that Jurgis decided that he would go to America is because of all the great things he had heard about it, about the ideal of being free. He had heard “In that country, rich or poor, a man was free, it was said; he did not have to go into the army, he did not have to pay out his money to rascally officials—he might do as he pleased, and count himself as good as any other man” (23). This is what many immigrants believe in, and they wanted to come to the country in hopes of finding the American Dream, where they could work hard and make their way to the top of the ladder, where they would live freely in success.

However, the reality of what America was like was very harsh to most of the immigrants that flocked to it during the Industrial Revolution. For Jurgis and the eleven others he brought with on the voyage, they found that immigrants were...

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...d no idea or care that there was so many things wrong with it, because there was not healthier or better food to find within miles.

The Jungle has many strong points that tell how things were for most immigrants during this time period. Many fled to America in hopes of the talks of being free from oppression and to be able to maintain a strong job and become successful, but very few ever realized it. The sanitation and working conditions in the plants were so coarse that it literally put the country in a shock to discover what was really going on. The book was extremely influential in making an impact on the regulation of all the food industries and making sure the food sold in stores is healthy and up to certain standards. It also helped raise agendas about how terrible the conditions in the plants were, which helped strengthen the unions of the time to better fight against the robber barons of the time. Though it was aimed at helping the socialist party, it ended up being a story that changed the way many Americans thought about their country and inevitably forced them to change things for the better.

Works Cited

Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. New York: Dell, 2003.

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