Upton Sinclair 's The Jungle

1415 Words6 Pages
Upton Sinclair exposed the exploitation of Immigrants working in Chicago’s meatpacking industry during the early twentieth century. Many people believed his book “The Jungle” helped with the exposure of the corruption in the government during the twentieth century. The book focused mainly on the poor living and working conditions of Immigrants during the early twentieth century. Sinclair wanted to prove that labor unions and Progressive reform had little or no impact on improving the working conditions of Immigrants. He felt that capitalism, with or without unions or reform, would be bad for workers, especially immigrant workers who were even lower on the socioeconomic ladder than native-born workers. Sinclair 's book is meant to reject the capitalist system and bring in its place a socialist system. In this critical portrait of capitalism and its exploitation of immigrants and other workers, unions are in fact shown to be tools for the capitalist bosses, used as another means to control and mislead immigrants. Sinclair 's book talks about the broken dreams of a Lithuanian immigrant, Jurgis Rudkis, and his Lithuanian family. In the book, unions are meant to be institutions that give false hope to many workers. These workers live in utterly dreadful circumstances and are exploited like animals by their capitalist overlords. The women are forced to work at an inhuman pace and fired if they complained. The men worked liked slaves in the meat packing plants. When Jurgis finally finds a job, he finds working conditions to hardly be fitting of the American Dream for which he’d left his native country. Sinclair is relentless in providing page after page of detailed horrors the immigrants faced on a daily basis. These horrors are inten... ... middle of paper ... ...ream in general. And then they find the unions ineffective and corrupt, and find as well that they are on their own in a sea of sharks. Sinclair viewed socialism as the only answer for the immigrant worker, because it is an option which will not merely try to reform a corrupt system from a naively Progressive perspective, but will completely do away with capitalism and replace it with a just and fair system designed to treat human beings like human beings instead of like machines or animals to be abused and used up and tossed away when they prove rebellious or are no longer capable of adding to profits. If we accept Sinclair 's premise, that capitalism is utterly corrupt and inhumane, then his denunciation of unionism (in the context of capitalism) makes sense, as does his argument for socialism. Bibliography Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. New York: Signet, 1990.
Open Document