The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, Jr.

612 Words3 Pages
At the beginnings of the 1900s, some leading magazines in the U.S have already started to exhibit choking reports about unjust monopolistic practices, rampant political corruption, and many other offenses; which helped their sales to soar. In this context, in 1904, The Appeal to Reason, a leading socialist weekly, offered Sinclair $500 to prepare an exposé on the meatpacking industry (Cherny). To accomplish his mission, Sinclair headed to Chicago, the center of the meatpacking industry, and started an investigation as he declared“ I spent seven weeks in Packingtown studying conditions there, and I verified every smallest detail, so that as a picture of social conditions the book is as exact as a government report” (Sinclair, The Industrial Republic 115-16). To get a direct knowledge of the work, he sneaked into the packing plants as a pretended worker. He toured the streets of Packingtown, the area near the stockyards where the workers live. He approached people, from different walks of life, who could provide useful information about conditions in Packingtown. At the end of seven weeks, he returned home to New Jersey, shut himself up in a small cabin, wrote for nine months, and produced The Jungle (Cherny).

IV-1- The Jungle and the American Dream

Sinclair’s The Jungle, is his fictionalized report of Chicago's Packingtown. It traces a family of Lithuanian immigrants in Chicago, and describes the horrifying living and working conditions they endure. Through Jurgis, the protagonist, and his family, Sinclair unfolds the tragedy of suffering of all Packinghouse workers in their pursuit of the American Dream. He gives a detailed description about their ordeals, from their lodging at boardinghouses to their buying of cheated house,...

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...t is this same smoked sausage that kills Kristoforas, Jurgis’s nephew. An hour after eating smoked sausage the young boy started yelling out in exclamations of great pain and convulsing. Within minutes he was dead (138).

These were only some of many examples in The Jungle about deceit and corruption exhibited in the meat packing industry. Nonetheless, plants had government inspectors to check for tubercular animals, but Sinclair explains that these inspectors were usually the kind of people who would be easily distracted by those passing, and would not regret missing dozens of other animals. Therefore, people’s faith in those government inspectors had been betrayed, and their health needs were relentlessly ignored. However, Sinclair’s exposing of the scheming meat packing industry increased the awareness of such practices occurring daily.
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