In more depth, the novel’s title symbolizes the competitive and cutthroat nature of capitalism. In the case of the novel, Packingtown is like a jungle, where the strong prey on the weak and all living things are forced to engage in a brutal fight for survival. By relating the story of a family of honest, hardworking immigrants who are destroyed by corruption and evil and can only survive in this way, Sinclair implies that those who succeed in the capitalist system are not the best of mankind but rather the worst and most corrupt of all.
Sinclair builds on this symbol throughout the novel by showing the effect of the capitalist system on Jurgis’ family to represent the working class as a whole, in other words, the prey. In the case of the working class and people overall, capitalism forces even the well-intentioned people to become emotionless and cutthroat and to prey on others in order to survive. As Jurgis and his family members experience worse and worse times in Packingtown, they find themselves surrounded with signs and cases of immorality and corruption; such as laws that are not enforced, politicians out for their own gain, and salesmen who lie about their wares. In other words, a whole community of people trying desperately to get ahead by taking advantage of one another. The family itself is subject to many types of corruption like swindles, grafts, manipulation, and rape. For example, when Jurgis ...
... middle of paper ...
...n than not they were one and the same person,—the police captain would own the brothel he pretended to raid, and the politician would open his headquarters in his saloon”(Chapter 25).
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair shows how the capitalist system exploits the working class of prey, gives absolute power to a wealthy few of predators, and forces individuals to act only out of self-interest, regardless of the suffering of others in order to survive natural selection. Workers are exposed to brutal working conditions where they suffer exhaustion, injury, bodily harm, and death. In order to survive, individuals must compete for these terrible jobs, send their children to work, and prostitute themselves. In other words under the capitalist system, cheating and dishonesty becomes the normal way of surviving and in this jungle the conditions are “may the most corrupt survive”.
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