An Analysis of the Jungle by Upton Sinclair
In the early 1900's life for America's new Chicago immigrant workers in the meat packing industry was explored by Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle. Originally published in 1904 as a serial piece in the socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason, Sinclair's novel was initially found too graphic and shocking by publishing firms and therefore was not published in its complete form until 1906. In this paper, I will focus on the challenges faced by a newly immigrated worker and on what I feel Sinclair's purpose was for this novel.
In the early 1900's a newly arrived immigrant worker faced numerous challenges that had to be overcome. Often times literally arriving with the clothes on their back and a few meager dollars, it was crucial for these
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Woven throughout the course of the story, a common thread appears in the form of a call for Socialist reform. As the narrative progresses we are first introduced to a society of two classes, the rich capitalistic entrepreneurs and the working class who labor beneath them. As the story progresses we are constantly bombarded with the plight of the working class and countless examples of the rampant corruption possessed by the then modern day capitalistic system and the political machine that seemingly works hand in hand with it.
When the main protagonist of Sinclair's novel, Jurgis, arrives in America, he and his family are filled with hope in the American Dream'. As the story progresses, he and his family are subjected to unending hardships and setbacks that eventually devastate the family as a social unit and destroys Jurgis' beliefs of a better life. His faith in himself and his ability to "work harder" to support those that he cares about are decimated to the point that he eventually abandons his work ethic and traditions and becomes an agent of the very system he despises.
As we follow Jurgis through the first 27 chapters of the novel we are given countless examples of how the current capitalistic system is broken. It is at this point that Sinclair offers Socialism as a solution to all