The American Dream is a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward mobility achieved through hard work. It is the national ethos of the United States. In the definition of the American Dream by James T. Adams, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with an opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement”. Directly contrasting Adams’ notion of the American Dream is Upton Sinclair’s book, “The Jungle”. Sinclair uses the struggles of a family of working class Lithuanian immigrants to expose the hypocrisy of the American Dream and early American capitalism. Comparing the stark differences between the Epic of America by Adams and The Jungle by Sinclair, we fine that there is a great difference between the portrayals of the American Dream.
“The Jungle,” written by Upton Sinclair in 1906, describes how the life and challenges of immigrants in the United States affected their emotional and physical state, as well as relationships with others. The working class was contrasted to wealthy and powerful individuals who controlled numerous industries and activities in the community. The world was always divided into these two categories of people, those controlling the world and holding the majority of the power, and those being subjected to them. Sinclair succeeded to show this social gap by using the example of the meatpacking industry. He explained the terrible and unsafe working conditions workers in the US were subjected to and the increasing rate of corruption, which created the feeling of hopelessness among the working class.
Capitalism underwent a severe attack at the hands of Upton Sinclair in this novel. By showing the misery that capitalism brought the immigrants through working conditions, living conditions, social conditions, and the overall impossibility to thrive in this new world, Sinclair opened the door for what he believed was the solution: socialism. With the details of the meatpacking industry, the government investigated and the public cried out in disgust and anger. The novel was responsible for the passage of The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. With the impact that Sinclair must have known this book would have, it is interesting that he also apparently tried to make it fuction as propaganda against capitalism and pro-socialism.
Throughout American history, people that have challenged themselves with a cause have had at least some control of major issues present during their lives. Upton Sinclair was one of these influential people. Using his talent for writing, Sinclair wrote his most successful novel, The Jungle. This novel stressed a need to improve conditions for industrial workers, and exposed the faults of Capitalism in order to promote his cause; which was Socialism. Sinclair achieved his goal of promoting Socialism with the story of Jurgis Rudkus and his family. By describing the harsh system in which workers were consumed by, Sinclair uncovered faults in Capitalism, and inversely promoted Socialism.
While The Jungle was by far Sinclair’s most famous work, what many are not aware of is the fact that The Jungle was initially written as an expose for a well-known socialist newspaper in the country, Appeal to Reason. Although Sinclair once said he were to write the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin of the labor movement”, he did so not by merely speculating what the meat packing industry was like, but by actually experiencing the lifestyle firsthand. Upton Sinclair went to the packing plants himself in order to truly gain the experience of what it was like to work in the stockyards as well as communicating directly with employees, laborers, social workers, and locals to truly grasp what life was like in a place like Packingtown. It was not until Sinclair was able to take all of his experiences in that he was able to sit down and write an accurate and to some, frightful expose of what the meat packing industry
Employment is hard to find and hard to keep and a job isn’t always what one hoped for. Sometimes jobs do not sufficiently support our lifestyles, and all too frequently we’re convinced that our boss’s real job is to make us miserable. However, every now and then there are reprieves such as company holiday parties or bonuses, raises, promotions and even a half hour or hour to eat lunch that allows escape from monotonous workloads. Aside from our complaints, employment today for majority of American’s isn’t totally dreadful, and there always lies opportunity for promotion. American’s did not always experience this reality in their work places though, and not long past are days of abysmal and disgusting work conditions. In 1906 Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” was published. His novel drastically transformed the way Americans felt about the unmitigated power corporations wielded in the ‘free’ market economy that was heavily propagandized at the turn of the century. Corporations do not have the same unscrupulous practices today because of actions taken by former President Theodore Roosevelt who felt deeply impacted by Sinclair’s famous novel. Back in early 1900’s in the meatpacking plants of Chicago the incarnation of greed ruled over the working man and dictated his role as a simple cog within an enormous insatiable industrial machine. Executives of the 1900’s meatpacking industry in Chicago, IL, conspired to work men to death, obliterate worker’s unions and lie to American citizens about what they were actually consuming in order to simply acquire more money.
The first time Professor Marx mentioned that we would be given the opportunity to witness a pig slaughtering, I immediately decided that I would do it. I chose the Abattoir because I wanted to be informed about the process. As I walked down the path to the Abattoir I tried not to think about what I was about to witness. After passing through the huge metal doors, stepping in the soap water to disinfect the bottom of my shoes, putting on the hair net, the apron, and hard hat, I felt like I was about to walk on to the production floor of a large factory. The room was an obsessive-compulsive person’s paradise. Everything was spotless and in top condition. On the ceiling were a series of wheels on rails that connected to hooks, which moved the pigs from station to station. Other than an assortment of carts, a monstrous machine in one corner, four butchers, and an inspector, the room seemed empty.
was fact. Upton Sinclair visited Chicago in November 1904 to do
research for the book. Sinclair lived in a neighborhood called
Packingtown for seven weeks. While in Packingtown, Sinclair
interviewed workers, lawyers, doctors, saloonkeepers, and social workers.
The book The Jungle by Upton Sinclair served as the catalyst to a movement in which the American public demanded the right to safe food causing the government to respond to this responsibility.
An American writer, reformer, and an idealistic supporter of socialism, Upton Sinclair, became a famous “muckraker” in the early 1900s. Through his writing, he made it his principle goal to expose political and social evils (Daniel Mark Fogel). The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, comes across rather elementary as far as novels go; however, the way the story reads is not what was so important about the book. By writing the book, the author aimed to expose the horrendous working conditions in the meatpacking industry in the early 1900s in Chicago, Illinois. As a worker himself in the meatpacking plant yards, Sinclair often witnessed illegal practices and unsafe food handling first hand (Gallagher). In addition to the poor working conditions, he attempts to shed some light on the diseased, rotten and contaminated state of the meat products that these deprived workers produced. Upton Sinclair’s, The Jungle, highlights the devastating condition of the meatpacking industry’s workers, their poor health practices at the turn of the century, and by reaching the White House, this anti-capitalist and pro-socialist author’s novel changed the way our food reaches the American public forever.