Analysis Of How Upton Sinclair Conveys His Beliefs In The Jungle

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

The 1906 novel ‘The Jungle” written by Upton Sinclair depicts the exploitation and harsh conditions of the lives of immigrants within industry ran cities in the United States of America. The main character Jurgis and his extended family which include his wife Ona, her cousin Marija, her stepmother Elzbieta and her six children, and Jurgis’s father move to Packingtown in Chicago leaving their lives in Lithuania behind them. In the book, it is not clearly stated but Sinclair conveys his beliefs that socialism is better for our nation than capitalism. Sinclair conveys this idea by illustrating and a family full of immigrants that is struggling to stay afloat, taken advantage of, and are constantly on the edge of starving to death. People that are in the poor or working class, like Jurgis and his family, they were taken advantage of by the higher class to be exploited. The book holds capitalism accountable for all the wrong doings that occur in the world and to jurgis and his family. Throughout the story, Jurgis gradually adapts to socialist customs.

The jungle explores social darwinism. Sinclair implies that the title of the book itself it suggests that in an area such as Packingtown, some will survive, while others will not. Sinclair describes the process of societal and economic force of Packingtown by using metaphors for nature. For example,’ how winter’s cold kills those trees which cannot find light’. Social Darwinism sparks the controversial approach since it ignores traits of human benignity. The book describes the predicament that the working class faces in Packingtown when wage slavery comes into effect. Sinclair states the population of the immigrants was “dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers. ” Immigrants did not have the capability to break the economic cycle that metaphorically keeps them chained to their jobs. The cycle of slavery and poverty was depicted by the deceitful politicians of the local government and capitalist packing plant owners. The people without jobs were in need of jobs and were willing to find work anywhere.

On the other hand, local businessmen and politicians scheme to take wages away from immigrants by doing scams and selling faulty products to those immigrants. An immigrant was thus a slave to the economic conditions that he could not control. In the novel, Jurgis has very minimal interior life for the fact that Upton Sinclair wants whoever is reading the novel to perceive in extensive detail to observe the certain ways that Jurgis’s surroundings as they affect him as a character and as a man. Jurgis’s predicament is of the use of the natural breakdown of the body caused by natural and social systems and industrial machine. During the novel, he begins to fall in love with the girl that lives in a nearby town from him in Lithuania. Her name is Ona Lukoszaite. Once Ona and Jurgis move to the United States of America, she brings her extended family which include her cousin Marija, her stepmother Elizabeta and all her children. Throughout the novel, Ona is treated badly by the people around her. For instance, Ona’s supervised Miss Henderson runs a brothel. Miss Henderson despises Ona for the fact that she is a married woman. The toadies and Miss Henderson make her feel horrible. Ona’s cousin Marija has to work to help Jurgis make ends meet for everyone in the house so they do not get evicted or become homeless. Marija retrieves a job that she is fired from two months later at the can painting factory. She lost her job after vocally expressing being scammed out of a good chunk of her wages. The loss of Marija’s money from her job leaves everyone in the house in shambles due to the fact that Ona is pregnant with Jurgis’s child. As a month goes by, Marija finds a job as a meat trimmer. She is hired for the sheer fact that she has the strength of a man even though her wages are half the amount of her male counterparts.

Throughout chapter 14, Jurgis and his family discovers the lies that occur in the meat-packing industry that sell adulterated, rotten, and disease ridden meat to Americans. All of the people that work in the factory are forced into silence due to the misery of their lives and poverty. Ona and Jurgis slowly separate from each other which in return cause Jurgis to start drinking. However, Jurgis avoids becoming an alcoholic through will power and determination but him wanting to drink will always haunt him. Jurgis’s child Antanas endures many illnesses and encounters a severe case of the measles. Surprisingly, Antanas gets to reach his first birthday through his fighting and will power even though he is terribly malnourished.

Sinclair expresses his opinion that capitalism encourages the idealism of anti-Christianity. Considering the fact that the immigrants came form parts of Eastern Europe, they held onto their Christian and Jewish beliefs as they came to the United States of America. During the Christmas holiday, Jurgis involuntarily has to stay away from his family and with him not being able to work, Jurgis and his family eventually get evicted from their home during the time of the year that is usually full of joyous occasions. Jurgis’s remembrance of virtually walking past toys in store windows and drooling over food of past Christmases but the harsh truth of capitalism puts them in a predicament with their dreams. Jurgis’s incapability to buy anything during the holidays considers him a failure in the eyes of people in the capitalist system. With the thought of financial crisis dangling over Jurgis and his family. Every time the seasons change, it brings more suffrage and turmoil along with it. Not even the thought of spring coming does not excite the family. In chapters 10-13 the unpredictable presence of wage laborers is depicted.

In spite of the fact that it was not Sinclair’s main purpose to uncover the abuse in the food industry when writing The Jungle, the exclamation over the selling and production of meat became the defining bequest. Throughout the book, Upton Sinclair blames with the tricks that the meat packers used to sell contaminated and spoiled milk on the mechanisms of capitalism. In an attempt to grasp every penny that they can out of the process of meat packing, the packers advise that they use unsanitary methods and shorts cuts to prevent wasting money that they earn. Upton Sinclair uses The Jungle as a chance to express that the United States was in desperate need of a change, in the food aspect of things anyway. The book inspired the Meat Inspection Act and the Food and Drug Act which were both passed within the same year of the book being published. Even though the workers perform the spoiling of the meat supply, Sinclair does not hold them responsible for their activities. The workers hurt themselves and by the system because they do not have the ability to change how things operate in the factories. The public became infuriated with the abuse endured in the industries that the Food and Drug Act were passed by Congress and signed by President Theodore Roosevelt.

The Jungle is one of the best American representations of the value in the role of art as information. Sinclair has the belief that art is not read it only for the purpose of creating something appealing in habits of the previous traditional eras. A novel like this should make particular high-minded claims of how people should act. In the matter of the jungle, Sinclair uses clear scenes of despair and violence to depict propaganda. Sinclair believes there are artworks in this way. Even if the artist does not deliberately mean for it to be used that way.


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