When hearing this, Jurgis goes into a fit of rage and attacks her boss. He is sent to jail for the first time and stays there for thirty days. Once he returns, he finds his wife having given birth months before she was due. Ona and the baby die, and Jurgis is a mess. He promises to keep going for his baby, Antanas. After coming back one day, he finds that his baby has fallen and drowned. Jurgis is at his end and takes off to become a tramp in the country. He gets with his jail acquaintance Jack Duane and becomes a criminal. He helps Mike Scully rig the elections, and in turn, Scully helps Jurgis get a job again in the meat packing industry. He becomes a “scab” at work and once again attacks Phil Connor. Jurgis finds himself going into a meeting to keep warm after getting bail. He listens to what the man has to say and becomes interested in becoming a socialist. He then finds a job in a hotel, and his boss is a socialist too. Jurgis then reunites with the family he left behind to find out that Marija has become a prostitute and is into drugs, and the children are all over the streets. With everything that has gone wrong in his life, Jurgis now has something to turn to and something to plan for the future. The movement for the rights of the workers
The true purpose behind this novel was for the author to shine a light on what immigrants faced coming into a new country that promised new beginnings and instead struggled to keep themselves afloat in an ocean filled with capitalism and other corrupt systems that kept them from growing socially and economically. There is no one sentence that can be pinpointed to show the thesis, but the theme of this novel is clear in showing mostly everything that the author witnessed. It exposed not only the meatpacking industry but also the way politics worked behind closed doors. It showed the poor working conditions employees would suffer through and the unfair wages that, if they were lucky, barely kept them fed.
Sinclair does provide a clear and definite interpretation of history by presenting facts, and he is a firsthand witness to what is happening inside the factories. The interpretation of the author is written clearly; however, many people who read the book look past Sinclair’s writing on the working conditions and are disgusted by the way meat is used in ways it should not be. Hence the passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act.
The author contextualizes the story into a major part of history occurring in this time period. His novel relies heavily on the setting and date, as it is at this time that people were cheating on health codes, politics, and wages. From what is read, the reader can assume that they are in the early 1900s and that they are in Chicago working in the stockyards.
The source the author uses can be seen as a narrative. He writes this story after going undercover for seven weeks and includes the horrors he witnessed in his writing. The author provides the reader with endnotes that explain words and phrases that he used in his novel, but there is no other citation found in the book. For example, “(p. 41) government inspector: The first Meat Inspection Act was passed in 1891, but as Sinclair suggests in the text that follows, it was not rigorously enforced.”
The style of this book is professional but not difficult to read for a high school student. For the most part, the only words that have difficulty being understood are the ones written in Lithuanian, but the author has the translations at the bottom of the page where they are used. The author does not use such complicated language as it is from the point of view of a Lithuanian family that barely knows English.
The author does not seem to have had a bias while writing this book. He was sent by the newspaper he worked for to spy on the stockyards and make an observation as to what really goes on in there. He simply collected facts and put them together. He writes about the life immigrants lead, having nothing to their name and being at the mercy of people who would surely take advantage of them. He leaves it to the audience to read the story of someone with firsthand experience of it and leaves it to them to analyze.
As observed throughout the story, the author never strays from his original theme and intentions for this book. He follows through with the family that breaks apart and comes together time and again. Prior to reading this novel, I had questions as to how such a large family could be fed when a good wage was scarce at this time, and even though the novel has many minor characters, he never leaves us questioning what happened to even the youngest, with the exclusion of Jonas. He writes with great detail about the conditions the workers had and exploits the corruption found in politics. “Socialists were the enemies of American institutions; they could not be bought and would not combine or make any sort of “dicker.'”
Upton Beall Sinclair Jr., born September 20, 1878, in Baltimore, Maryland, was an American author who wrote nearly 100 books. His popularity sprang up most from his book, The Jungle. He graduated from the College of the City of New York in 1897. He attended Columbia University and started his career by writing comics and jokes in newspapers and magazines. His interest in this topic grew after he was sent undercover by Appeal to Reason to get a closer look at the conditions of the Chicago stockyards. His intent for the book was to get people to see the struggle and harsh conditions immigrants went through. Instead, people reacted to how the meat they consumed was processed. Sinclair commented, “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident, I hit it in the stomach.” His novel soon became a best-seller. In 1943, Upton Sinclair won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
The author concludes with a chant saying, “Chicago will be ours!” Which depicts Jurgis’s new purpose for living after losing it all. Looking through history, anyone can see that Jurgis was not the only one to have suffered and lost. Yet, through all of the suffering, many people learned the ways of the world. People like Jurgis are not only able to envision a future where they can be happy, but they also fight alongside each other to help make it a reality. Through this book, the author brought many things to light and helped bring about a change to make sure our food was properly processed and safe to consume. What started as a serial in the newspaper went on to become a life-changing book in American history.
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