The Jungle: A Close Examination

2732 Words11 Pages
There are a million people, men and women and children, who share the curse of the wage-slave; who toil every hour they can stand and see, for just enough to keep them alive; who are condemned till the end of their days to monotony and weariness, to hunger and misery, to heat and cold, dirt and disease, to ignorance and drunkenness and vice! And then turn them over to me, and gaze upon the other side of the picture. There are a thousand-ten thousand, maybe-who are master of these slaves, who own their toil. They do nothing to earn what they receive, they do not even have to ask for it-it comes to them of itself, their only care is to dispose of it. They live in such palaces, they riot in luxury and extravagance-such as no words can describe, as makes the imagination reel and stagger, makes the soul grow sick and faint. (363)The Jungle, considered Upton Sinclair’s greatest achievement, shows the deplorable conditions in meat packing plants, as well as moving the reader on the path to socialism, something in which he truly believed in.

In order for Sinclair to give accurate details in the book, he spent over a year researching and writing about the conditions on the meat packing plants in Chicago. This first hand experience allowed for Sinclair to see the plight of the “wage-slaves.” At the turn of the century, no laws were in place to protect the workers or to regulate the shipment of meat.The Jungle was originally serialized in a socialist newspaper, entitled Appeal to Reason. When the book was finally published in book form, it instigated a pure food movement, which brought about the Pure Food and Drug Act. George P.

Brett said the following of The Jungle:“[The Jungle] will set forth the breaking of human hearts by a system which exploits the labor of men and women for profit. It will shake the poplar heart and blow the roof off the industrial tea-kettle. What socialism will be in this book, will, of course, be imminent; it will be reveled by incidents-there will be no sermons. (Bloodworth 48)This is very truthful, as it accurately describes how Sinclair leads the reader towards socialism through the various literary aspects in the novel- such as characters, conflict, point of view, theme, and style.In the novel, Jurgis sees that everyone that comes into contact with capitalism becomes greedy and materialistic, even himself. Jurgis sees the deceitfulne...

... middle of paper ...

...atching the hogs actually get killed. His reason for describing every detail is to show the reader exactly what happens, and to make the reader feel that they are actually there, watching the events unfold.In conclusion, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair was written to show the goodness of socialism and the evils of capitalism, in addition to show the plight of the workers in the packing yards of Chicago.

Due to the graphic nature of this book, it instigated many reforms, most notably the immediate pure food reform. It also brought forth many regulates for workers, such as child labor laws and forty hour work weeks. In this novel, Sinclair brings the reader along the path to socialism using a variety of techniques, such as characters, conflict, point of view, theme and style. These help Sinclair write one of the greatest proletarian novels of all time. William Bloodworth, Jr. writes that “few readers-and not very many American writers-could ignore what he had done.”(64)

Works CitedBloodworth, William A. “Upton Sinclair.” Boston: Twayne, 1977.Ebenstein, William. “Today’s –isms.” Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1970.Sinclair, Upton. “The Jungle.” New York: Penguin, 1985
Open Document