Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle (1906) gives an in-depth look at the lives of immigrant workers here in America. In fact the look was so in depth that the Pure Food and Drug Act was created as a result.Many people tend to focus purely on the unsanitary conditions instead of the hardships faced by the workers. Actually, I think that Sinclair doesn’t want the focus on the meatpacking industry but on overcoming obstacles, especially through socialism. Sinclair was himself very outspoken when it came to socialism.
The story takes place in Chicago with a group of immigrants. They have come to the United States only to discover that it is a cruel, harsh world and the land of shattered dreams. The group first goes through many difficult trials and tribulations. The first big problem faced by the group is marriage, which costs a great deal of money. The second ordeal is a very tragic death. After these, one couple buys a house that is sold to them for three times its value. The parents and other groups then move into the house. One of the characters goes into the meat packing industry, and this is where we find out all of the unsanitary details of the factory. Another character is a musician who is struggling to find work, so his wife takes a job. After a while, the character at the meat packing plant breaks his arm and is not given it back once he heals. He learns from this that the owners do not care about their employees and will hire you if you are new, but as soon as something goes wrong, they will fire you.It is at this point that the character talks to a socialist and inspires him to begin traveling to the meetings. He returns to his job and becomes the manager immediately. After his first socialist rally, he listens to mainly two people: one is an ex-professor who has become a philosopher, and the other is an evangelist who has become a traveler.
The Jungle had a great deal to do with socialism. Upton disliked communism and capitalism a great deal and thought that socialism was the answer. Sinclair was brought up in Baltimore, and his family was considerably poor. His father was very unsuccessful at his job, and it is believed that for this reason, Sinclair became a socialist because, in communist countries, all people are treated equally. This book made me think of the book Animal Farm written by George Orwell. I read this book in middle school, and we had to do extensive research on socialism, capitalism, and communism. The two books are actually opposites. Orweel’s book points out the bad side of socialism, with the rules ending up saying all animals are created equal, some more equal than others. Sinclair tries to show the good in socialism through the fact that it helped the character become the manager.
Sinclair showed a lot about the strength of the human spirit. His character overcame so many obstacles. They overcame numerous financial difficulties, such as the house, the wedding, and being out of work. They even overcame death, which is one of the most difficult things to overcome. Sinclair himself overcame quite a lot. He came from a very poor family to become a famous author. He often published his own books.
Sinclair often put a great deal of himself into his work. He put his knowledge and opinions into this work. He described the meatpacking industry in such detail that it makes me a little cautious when I bite down on that cheeseburger. He also includes his thoughts on socialism in the novel’s conversations and rallies on the subject.
I thought that this was an interesting book. It gave a realistic view of the lives of immigrants during the early 1900s. The character names were difficult to follow, though, and that often made the book hard to read. I can see how Sinclair’s depiction of the meatpacking industry led to the government getting involved and instituting the Pure Food and Drug Act. The descriptions were sometimes almost too gruesome for me, and I enjoy blood and gore, but not when it comes to my food.
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