Upton Sinclair: A Voice For Food Safety

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In 1906 Doubleday published a fiction novel based in reality and centered on immigrant life in the Chicago meat packing district. “The Jungle,” was written by Upton Sinclair, a 27 year old author from Baltimore under a $500 advance from a socialist newspaper. This novel soon became a focus of controversy and change within the United States. Though known more for it’s horrific portrayal of the conditions inside slaughterhouses, only 60 pages of the 413 pages that make up “The Jungle” detail the goings-on of the meat packing industry.Sinclair’s book was intended to be a political and social commentary on the plight of the worker during the turn of the century. Oddly enough, the story opens with a wedding. The protagonist, Jurgis Rudkus a Lithuanian immigrant, marries Ona Lukoszaite. Even on this joyous day, the outlook looks grim for this young couple. Even though many have come to celebrate, few have brought the traditional gift of money to help the couple start their life. This theme of economic hardship that unfolds within the first five minutes of reading will continue as a premise long throughout the remainder of the story. The timeline of the book is somewhat convoluted as the focus now shifts to the time when Jurgis is first looking for work within meat packing district of Chicago. Dubbed “Packingtown,” these employers only reveal a small glimpse of the industry to the public and to prospective employees. The businesses make outlandish claims saying they “use everything about the hog except the squeal!” This leads Jurgis to feel proud and confident of his choice to join this industry. He feels as though the American dream that has been imparted upon is indeed true and that he can succeed in the new world. Ho... ... middle of paper ... ...espite losing to John Galsworthy. His work has inspired three major pieces of food safety legislation and entitled him to two trips to the White House six decades apart. He unsuccessfully campaigned for the United States House of Representatives, the United States Congress, and the Governorship of California. The imagery his words provided in “The Jungle” left America with a angry voice and a sick stomach and his work will not likely be forgotten. Works Cited DeGruson, G. (1988) Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Retrieved on March 21, 2010 from http://www.enotes.com/twentieth-century-criticism/jungle-upton-sinclair/gene- degruson-essay-date-1988 McDowell, E. (1988, August 22). Sinclair's jungle with all muck restored. New York Times, C15. Sinclair, U. (1906). The Jungle. Chicago: Doubleday. Wasowski, R. (2001). The Tenets of sinclair’s socialism.
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