The Jungle by Upton Sinclair: Fame for the Wrong Reason

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In the early 1900’s America begin to transform rapidly. Many immigrants started moving to the United States in the early 1900’s with the hopes of living the “American Dream.” However, that glittering and gleaming American lifestyle is merely a distant ideal for the immigrants living in Packingtown, the meatpacking district of Chicago. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle portrays life through the eyes of a poor workingman struggling to survive in this cruel, tumultuous environment, where the desire for profit among the capitalist meatpacking bosses and the criminals makes the lives of the working class a nearly unendurable struggle for survival. The novel The Jungle is a hybrid of history, literature, and propaganda. Sinclair, a muckraking journalist of the early 1900s exposed to the nation an industry grounded by the principles of deceit and filth, and offered a new resolution to end this problem. The novel and its massive depiction of the grotesque and unsanitary conditions created an impetus for the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act (McCage 1) which transformed American lifestyle. The Jungle is notorious for exposing the grotesque and unsanitary conditions that existed in the meat packing industry; however, the novel’s purpose expands beyond this issue and reveals the disillusionment of the American dream, the evils of a capitalistic system, and a feasible plan to end corruption. Upton Sinclair’s novel adequately portrays how repulsive and disheartening the working conditions in the 1900’s really were. Through the eyes of Jurgis Rudkus, a strong young Lithuanian man, and his family, Sinclair is able to display the grotesque and stomach churning nature of the meatpacking industry in the early 20... ... middle of paper ... ...3. ---. “The Jungle.” Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature. Bloom’s Literature. Web. 6 Nov. 2013. Kongshaug, Erik. “Upton Sinclair.” American Writers. Ed. Jay Parini. Supplement V. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2000. 275-293. Print. McCage, Crystal. “The Jungle.” Encyclopedia of American Literature: Into the Modern, 1896- 1945. Bloom’s Literature. Web. 6 Nov. 2013. Mooker, R. N. “Muckraking and Fame: The Jungle.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. 1988: n. p. Rpt. in Art for Social Justice: The Major Novels of Upton Sinclair. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2006. 78-81. Print. Yoder, Jon A. “The Muckraker.” Upton Sinclair. 1975: n. p. Rpt. in Modern Critical Interpretations: Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2002. 3-19. Print.

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