Upton Sinclair's The Jungle

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The Jungle Reviewed by Preston Flurkey History 1302 March 14, 2014 Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois, 1988 From the very beginning, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle enthralls the reader with an anticipation that makes one want to continue reading. Upon further research of the author, it is clear he is a passionate writer at heart; though not always successful. The novel is best known for exposing the highly unsanitary conditions of the meat packing industry, run by corrupt political machines, as well as the severity and harshness faced by immigrants during this time. However, Sinclair’s true goal was to promote his new-found socialist principles amidst the growing businesses and harsh labor conditions existing to the lower class. The story sets in the city of Chicago, a city with a deep divide between the high and low working class. Although this was evident in many cities across the nation as urban areas continued to grow, Chicago was among the worst. Sinclair was able to take advantage of the struggle of laborers and wrote his story through the eyes of poor Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkus. It was brilliance on his part to create this fictional look into the working conditions during the Progressive era while laborers fought for better treatment. Within the novel, he is able to show the brutality of the conditions workers faced and a disgusting insight into the meat packing industry. One of Sinclair’s strongest literary devices used in the novel was his attention to detail; he could create vivid, though unpleasant, images of “Durham’s” meat packing plant into the reader’s mind. Probably the most memorable description in the novel was that many worker”s “peculiar trou... ... middle of paper ... ... very good ending. The last few chapters are where Sinclair was just trying to quickly pack in his underlying message. In my mind, I thought “What next? Are we to hope that Chicago became socialist and workers were treated justly?” If Sinclair wanted to successfully promote Socialism, it would have been better to describe Jurgis’s life after becoming a socialist and the resulting benefits. In conclusion, The Jungle offered a detailed insight to the working conditions and highly unsanitary processing methods in the meat packing industry. Although he failed to successfully promote Socialism, the book has been widely successful, mainly for the horrid descriptions and images of working in the plant. It will continue to be a memorable novel for history enthusiasts alike, and a captivating story to portray life of a working class citizen during the Progressive Era.
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