Upton Sinclair's The Jungle - Chicago Will Be Ours

973 Words4 Pages
The Jungle - Chicago Will Be Ours

"Their home! Their home! They had lost it! Grief, despair, rage, overwhelmed him - what was any imagination of the thing to this heart-breaking, crush reality of it ... Only think what he had suffered for that house - what miseries they had all suffered for that house - the price they had paid for it!"

"The Jungle", by Upton Sinclair, gives a heart breaking portrayal of the hardships faced by the countless poverty stricken laborers in the slaughter houses of Chicago. As in the quote above, a struggling family underwent months of back breaking labor only to loose their house at the drop of a hat. It was a desperate and unmerciful time when an accidentally fractured ankle cost a man his job and his family food and shelter.

In the early 1900's, strikes, riots, labor unions, and new political parties arose across the country. The government, with its laissez-faire attitude, allowed business to consolidate into trusts, and with lack of competition, into powerful monopolies. These multi-million dollar monopolies were able to exploit every opportunity to make greater fortunes regardless of human consequences. Sinclair illustrates the harsh conditions in Packingtown through a Lithuanian immigrant family and their struggles to survive. Ona, a young and frail woman, and Jurgis, a hardworking and strong man and the husband of Ona, come to America with some of their family to find work and to make a new and better life for themselves. With everyone finding employment right away, the family begins their lives in America with optimism, enthusiasm, and ignorance. Taking a huge risk, they purchase a small rickety house. Slowly, they awaken to the harsh realities of their surroundings. There's the mortg...

... middle of paper ...

...workingman is common ownership and democratic management of production. Schliemann, a socialist, explains that "anyone would be able to support himself by an hour's work a day." Sinclair goes even further by referring to socialism as the "new religion of humanity" to oppose the "jungle" in which the workingman slaves. Finally, Sinclair tries to convert his readers to socialism and reject capitalism by using numbers. At the end of the novel, he shows the increasing popularity of socialism as the number of votes increase. In Chicago, the number of votes for socialism started at next to nothing and, by the end of the book, there were nearly fifty thousand votes. Leaving the reader with a sense of optimism that socialism may one day triumph, Sinclair ends the novel with hope for the workingman as he zealously writes, "Chicago will be ours! Chicago will be ours!"
Open Document