“The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair
The novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair narrates the life story of Jurgis and the tortures that he suffers since his arrival in Chicago with his family. Throughout the story, Sinclair describes the hardships that Jurgis and his family face in this capitalist country. Sinclair, in depth, shows the drawbacks of capitalism through Jurgis’s and others life working in Packingtown. He then, towards the end of the novel introduces socialism as a solution to capitalism and its wickedness. Sinclair tries to persuade his readers to his views that “capitalism is immoral” and “socialism is the only solution to capitalism” He indeed backs up his argument with agreeable evidence and thrives to demonstrate the goodness of socialism. Socialism is better than capitalism and do can help the working men with his or her problems because it eliminates competition between the working class, promotes gender equality and provides an equal and a fair justice system.
The main reason why socialism works better than capitalism is because it eliminates competition among people for survival. Sinclair mentions this key point as an advantage for socialism. Ostrinski describes the rising competition between people as “The workers were dependent upon a job to exist from day to day, and so they bid against each other.” We could see this competition thoroughly in Packingtown and within the story. Just as Sinclair mentions, socialism can break these rivalries among people and can bring back cooperation and unity among people. It can happen when socialism exists, where properties are communal or common within the society rather than under the control of the capitalists; when the salaries are higher for the common working class rather than diminished to increase the profits of capitalists. In a capitalist country, due to the low wages that the common people receive, most of them turn towards crimes like theft, murder, prostitution etc while socialism decreases such situations and promotes the community’s well being by increasing the wages. Thus, in a socialist country, an “average man can work up little as two hours a day” and still survive spending the rest of his or her time for personal interests.
Continually, socialism also decreases gender inequality in workplaces. It promotes females involving and earning a living. In the story, Marija and Ona find it difficult to find jobs when they lose one because of the fact that females get very fewer jobs in Packingtown compared to males. In a capitalist country, most of the private sectors don’t hire females for jobs because they are not as productive as males since they cannot do arduous labor that men does like in Packingtown factories and mills. For capitalists, hiring females doesn’t bring profit and thus they don’t hire them. We can see in Marija’s case that she turned to prostitution because she was not offered many jobs and lost her job more frequently. She turned to prostitution as an only way to survive. In a socialist country like in Denmark, people regardless of their gender are offered jobs with higher salaries and are treated equally.
Furthermore, socialism also promotes an equal and a fair justice system. In the novel, we could see that when Jurgis was in trial and in the court, the judge didn’t listen to what he had to say because he was a poor person and he didn’t have any money. The judge gave the verdict in favor of Conor because he had a lot of money and power. Conor was easily able to persuade the judge and thus sent Jurgis to jail. This happened because the top few people or capitalists like Conor had all the power and they controlled everything, the common working class (the most of the population) had no say in the matter. In a socialist country, everyone is treated equal and the justice is fair to all because all are at the same level and all of them will be having jobs with higher wages. There isn’t a rich and poor differentiation.
To summarize, socialism helps people by increasing their wages which promotes for their betterment and it is better than capitalism because socialism decreases competition between people, promotes gender equality and puts forth an equitable justice system for its people. Socialism can get rid of the capitalist wickedness and make people happier again. With socialism, people do not need to work arduous labor for 15 to 16 hours a day, females will be treated equal to men and will gain more jobs, and the people can look up to the justice system as trustworthy. Sinclair was right when he addressed socialism as a solution to the problems that people faced in Chicago.
“The Jungle” Analysis
The novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair narrates the life story of Jurgis and the tortures and destruction that he suffers since his arrival to Chicago with his family. Throughout the story, Sinclair describes the cruelties that Jurgis and his family faces in this capitalist country. Sinclair, in depth, shows the drawbacks of capitalism through Jurgis’s life and tries to explain that thousands of other people in America lives through the same cruelty and tortures that Jurgis suffers. He then, towards the end of the novel introduces socialism as a solution to capitalism and its wickedness.
Sinclair tries to persuade his readers to his views that “capitalism is immoral” and “socialism is the only solution to capitalism” He indeed backs up his argument with agreeable evidences and thrives to demonstrate the goodness of socialism. Socialism is better than capitalism and do can help the working men with his or her problems because it eliminates competition between the working class, promotes gender equality and provides an equal and a fair justice system. The main reason why socialism works better than capitalism is because it eliminates competition between people for survival. Sinclair mentions this key point as an advantage for socialism. Ostrinski describes the rising competition between people as “The workers were dependent upon a job to exist from day to day, and so they bid against each other.” We could see this competition thoroughly in Packingtown and within the story.
Just as Sinclair mentions, socialism can break these rivalries among people and can bring back cooperation and unity between people. It can happen when socialism exists, where properties are communal or common within the society rather than under the control of the capitalists; when the salaries are higher for the common working class rather than diminished to increase the profits of capitalists. In a capitalist country, due to the low wages that the common people receive, most of them turn towards crimes like theft, murder, prostitution etc while socialism decreases such situations and promotes the community’s well being by increasing the wages. Thus, in a socialist country aand“average man can work up little as two hours a day” and still survive spending the rest of his or her time for personal interests. Continually, socialism also decreases gender inequality in workplaces. It promotes females involving and earning living. In the story, Marija and Ona finds it difficult to find jobs when they lose one because females often get less jobs in Packingtown compared to males. In a capitalist country, most of the private sectors don’t hire females for jobs because they are not as productive as males since they cannot do arduous labor that men does like in packingtown factories and mills.
For capitalists, hiring females doesn’t bring profit and thus they don’t hire them. We can see in Marija’s case that she turned to prostitution because she was not offered many jobs and lost her job more frequently. She turned to prostitution as an only way to survive. In a socialist country like in Denmark, people regardless of their gender are offered jobs with higher salaries and are treated equally. Furthermore, socialism also promotes an equal and a fair justice system. In the novel, we could see that when jJurgiswas in trial and in the court, the judge didn’t listen to what he had to say because he was a poor person and he didn’t have any money. The judge gave the verdict in favor of Conor because he had a lot of money and power. Conor was easily able to persuade the judge and thus sent jurgis to jail. This happened because the top few people or capitalists like Conor had all the power and they controlled everything, the common working class (the most of the population) had no say on the matter.
In a socialist country, everyone are treated equal and the justice is fair to all because all are at the same level and all of them will be having jobs with higher wages. There isn’t a rich and poor differentiation. To summarize, socialism helps people by increasing their wages which promotes for their betterment and it is better than capitalism because socialism decreases competition between people, promotes gender equality and puts forth an equitable justice system for its people. Socialism can get rid of the capitalist wickedness and make people happier again. With socialism, people do not need to work arduous labor for 15 to 16 hours a day, females will be treated equal to men and will gain more jobs, and the people can look up to the justice system as trustworthy. Sinclair was right when he addressed socialism as a solution to the problems that people faced in Chicago.
Book Review of Upton Sinclair, Jr’s, The Jungle
In this essay I will be exploring ideas surrounding an “underworld” in The Jungle. The Jungle was written in 1906 by the American novelist, Upton Sinclair, in order to show the world the evils of the American capitalist system. Sinclair documents the journey of an immigrant Lithuanian family’s move to America, and later their realisation that they were hugely disillusioned by dreams of a financially stable life in a better country. From the outset of the novel, the notion of being dragged from happiness and hope down into an underworld of despair created by capitalism is present. The opening scene is that of a typical Lithuanian wedding, one of the few if not the only moments of pure happiness in the entire novel; Jurgis then leaves the inner city and journeys out to the country where he experiences strong nostalgia to his past life in his home country. This creates a significant juxtaposition between the lives of the characters in their current and dehumanising lives, and the escape back to a happier past. It is the well-established system of capitalism in the United States that form the “underworld” in the novel, in that it undermines the less wealthy members of the population by handing affluence to those who are already rich, leading to immense suffering and exploitation in a world of appalling conditions such as an excess of alcoholism and prostitution, child labour, crime and socio-political corruption. This “underworld” is kept concealed under the fast lifestyle of twentieth century America and the glamour of the American Dream, forcing those caught in the capitalist trap to be dishonest to survive, a vice that extends from the poorest people cheating others in competing for menial jobs all the way to salesmen lying about their wares and politicians buying the support, or votes, of their public. Throughout the novel this idea of transformation into a lesser being is portrayed, a type of dehumanisation where, in the “underworld”, men are transformed into machines to aid capitalism and create a larger profit. An example of this is Jurgis, whose initial stance for his work at the meatpacking factory is that of an honest, hard-working man, but he eventually resorts to drinking, crime and abandoning his family after being emotionally tortured; the moment of his dehumanisation is when he returns to the factory to knowingly work for corrupt men.
Throughout the novel, food is used to symbolise the evil side of the nature of capitalism, and is the lynchpin allowing the “underworld” to continue thriving. Fundamentally, food is something that nurtures the body and mind, and plays a significant role in family life such as the wedding scene at the opening of the book. The food in Packingtown is dangerous and toxic, and the cans of rotten meat neatly symbolise the corrupted American Dream; they have a shiny, silver exterior but contain a product not fit for consumption by humans. It is also important to note here that the passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906 was motioned almost entirely due to the public reaction to the portrayal of meat processing in The Jungle. Citizens suddenly became aware that they were part of the “underworld” they may not have even known to exist, and pushed to reform those in power who have such obvious disregard for the fact that, because of their own greed and industrialism, their workforce was being forced to forage for food in unsanitary conditions.
From the point of view of an immigrant worker, in this case Jurgis, the meat packers appeared to be akin to fate, a capital engineered to destroy all opposition and, in turn, the everyday lives of citizens. An example of this is when Jurgis first entertains notions of socialism by stating that all those who are capitalists are “equivalent to fate”. Whilst Jurgis naturally believes these people to be the hand of fate that has ultimate control over his life, he later realises that as the capitalists are immoral in their dealings with other people, there is no difference between their dishonesty and the dishonesty of the workforce. It is important to note here that there was a significant amount more people in the workforce than those in capitalist power, enabling the disregarding of the hegemony that had established itself in the place of the American Dream. The quotation that capitalists are “equivalent to fate” also shows Jurgis’ political diversity; he is as receptive to the onset of socialism as he initially was to the capitalism he was greeted with upon his arrival in America. In addition, when Jurgis truly embraces socialism, it is introduced to the reader as a more desirable alternative to capitalism; socialism is portrayed as the antidote to repair the corruption in the “underworld” caused by capitalism.
Another significant point of interest is Sinclair’s choice of title for his novel; “The Jungle” suggests something more competitive than one may immediately expect, similar to the nature of America’s capitalist underworld itself. The powerful live off the impoverished, creating a harsh environment void of any moral grounding, akin to that of a “jungle” in the Darwinian sense. This notion extends into Social Darwinism, a school of thought that became popular in the mid-nineteenth century to justify a social system where capitalists abuse their control over those beneath them. As a concept in its own right, Social Darwinism rewarded those in power whilst oppressing those who were already caught in the trap of the capitalist “underworld”, never allowing them to escape and regain a good standing in society. Sinclair opposes this notion by portraying its devastating effects through a life story of honest people, whose family lives are destroyed by influences beyond their control; he delivers a strong underlying message that a capitalist society is the most corrupt that exists.
In conclusion, the “underworld” in The Jungle is the beneath layer of the corrupt American Dream, created by capitalism. The novel is designed to portray, relentlessly, that capitalism is solely to blame for the plight of the immigrant workers who are trapped in an underworld with an unrealistic faith of the glittering American Dream. America is very much portrayed as having two distinct societal layers, those who hold financial and political power, and then the “underworld” hidden beneath the deceptive exterior of twentieth century America, where capitalism’s effects reign over the lives of everyone. This underworld is shown to the general public for the first time in this book as they would have been, for the most part, unaware of the existence of the less pleasant side of their society. A young Lithuanian family is very gradually destroyed, and left at the mercy of a social system that delivers its prejudices by banishing the working class out of sight, into an underworld that exemplifies the cruel effects of capitalism on humans.
Upton Sinclair’s Memoir
Upton Sinclair was born in a small row house in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 20, 1878. Sinclair was the only child of an alcoholic liquor salesman, Upton Beall Sinclair, and a strict, strong-willed mother, Priscilla Harden. During his childhood he was raised on the edge of poverty, and was able to experience privilege when visiting his mother’s family. At the age of ten, Sinclair’s father decided to move his family from Baltimore to New York City, notably, at this time, Sinclair had already began to show interest in writers such as William Shakespeare and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Sinclair began selling children’s books at the age of fourteen while he attended the City College of New York, and after graduating in 1897, he then began attending Columbia University at the age of nineteen. In 1900, he married Meta Fuller, and had one son named David on December 1st, 1901. Later on in 1913 after divorcing Meta Fuller in 1911, he got remarried to Mary Craig Sinclair, and after divorcing Mary Craig in 1961, he remarried for the last time that same year to Mary Elizabeth Hard Willis.
Sinclair’s political opinions lead to his first literary success and the one for which he is most known. The disrespect he developed for the upper class as a child led Sinclair to socialism in 1903. In 1904 he was sent to Chicago by the socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason to write an exposé on the mistreatment of workers in the meatpacking industry. For seven consecutive weeks, he frequently visited Packingtown, which was the residential district next to the packing plants and stockyards. Sinclair posed as a worker, and began packing plants to achieve firsthand knowledge of the work. He then pursued social workers, police officers, physicians, and others who were able to tell him topics surrounding the work and lifestyle in Packingtown. Socialists that lived in the area introduced him to other individuals, who acknowledge the community and the work that occurred.
After those seven weeks had passed, he returned home to New Jersey, and began writing his manuscript of “The Jungle.” Unsurprisingly, it was rejected by publishers, but in 1906 the novel was finally released by Doubleday. Sinclair’s intention was to reveal the plight of laborers at the meatpacking plants, but instead his vivid descriptions of the cruelty to animals and unsanitary conditions caused a horrific public outcry, dramatically changing the way individuals shopped for food. Sinclair recounted the individuals who worked in the packinghouse experiencing afflictions such as severed fingers, tuberculosis and blood poisoning. President Theodore Roosevelt read Sinclair’s novel, and invited Sinclair to the White House and set forth an inspection of the meatpacking industry. The Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act were both passed in 1906. Later in 1938, Congress expanded the regulatory functions of the law passed in 1906, and extended the FDA’s control over processed foods. Then, in 1990, Congress passed the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, that required food products, including processed meat, to have basic nutritional information.
Unlike many previous authors who had said that the revision of the issues could be solved by the election of “honest men”, Sinclair believed in “the rejection of capitalism and the victory of socialism.” He wanted his readers to recognize that the horrors portrayed in his book were from corporate greed; he believed that the meatpacking industry was a community of capitalism.
An additional notable accomplishment was in September 1905, when Sinclair helped to establish the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which was a socialist based student organization that was active until 1921, when they changed the group’s name to “the League of Industrial Democracy” to symbolize the shift in importance to the community itself. This society provided seminars, discussion circles, and magazines all across the United States to broadcast socialist concepts to the population of college students. Because of this, it lead and inspired many intelligent individuals and writers to join. However, it was recognized by many that after the Russian Revolution, socialism was very unpopular in the United States. Yet these intellectuals continued to promote the idea of socialism to those who supported it.
The Jungle Essay Answer
Sinclair had intended to expose the horrible conditions faced by immigrants as the tried to survive in Chicago’s Meat-Packing District in his 1904 novel, The Jungle. While he did an admirable job of showing the unfair labor, housing, and economic conditions in Packingtown he did an even better job describing the horrible conditions which America’s meat was produced. His descriptions of the filthy and unsavory additions to sausage and other meat products woke up politicians to the problem, including President Theodore Roosevelt.
The Jungle is directly credited with helping to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act as well as The Meat Inspection Act in 1906. Examples on how truly horrific meat packing plants in Chicago really were. The main protagonist of the novel, Jurgis, saw men in the picking room with skin diseases. Men who used knives on the sped-up assembly lines frequently lost fingers. Men who hauled approximately 100-pound hunks of meat crippled their backs. To where workers with tuberculosis coughing constantly and spit blood on the floor. And right next to where the meat was being processed, workers often used primitive toilets without any access to soap and water to clean their hands. In some areas, no toilets existed, and workers would occasionally urinate in a corner. Lunchrooms were pretty scarce at the time and often rare, so much so that workers ate where the worked.
Following along through the novel, Jurgis suffered a series of heart-wrenching misfortunes that began when he injured his foot on the assembly line. And the aftermath of it all resulted to ‘no workers compensation’ being around the time, as well as the employer not claiming responsibility for Jurgis being injured on the job. Due to this Jurgis’s life fell apart, eventually losing his family, home and job. Do to the revolting nature of meat processing companies; the passage of The Meat Inspection Act opened the way for Congress to approve a long-blocked law to regulate the sale of most other foods and drugs.
Upton Sinclair, Jr’s, View of Struggle as Depicted in His Book, The Jungle
Welcome To The Jungle
Not once in The Jungle by Upton Sinclair does the author reference the title in the text, but the meaning of it is grounded deep in the writing. According to Merriam-Webster, a jungle is defined as “a confused or disordered mass of objects, something that baffles or frustrates by its tangled or complex character; a place of ruthless struggle for survival.” In the early nineteen-hundreds, the Packingtown area of Chicago embodies perfectly a jungle. The starvation, conditions, and sheer expanse of devastation demonstrate organized chaos at its peak while animalistic behavior tangles with physical needs in the filth of the Chicago stockyards. Sooner or later, this hunger catches up to many of the main characters and they turn to immoral activities in order to survive. Sinclair points at this with an abundance of metaphors which include personification and the breakdown of human choices into primal actions. In this book, the jungle is not a literal jungle, but yet a fight for survival on the capitalist pyramid.
When in the packing houses, Sinclair describes the pigs on their way to the slaughter almost eerily: “One could not stand and watch very long without being philosophical, without beginning to deal in symbols and similes, and to hear the hog-squeal of the universe…. Each of them had an individuality of his own, a will of his own, a hope and a heart’s desire; each was full of self-confidence, of self-importance, and a sense of dignity. And trusting and strong in faith he had gone about his business, the while a black shadow hung over him, and a horrid Fate in his pathway. Now suddenly it had swooped upon him, and had seized him by the leg. Relentless, remorseless, all his protests, his screams were nothing to it. It did its cruel will with him, as if his wishes, his feelings, had simply no existence at all; it cut his throat and watched him gasp out his life” (Sinclair 31). The picture that Sinclair paints with these words is not one typical of a city life; instead, it reveals the true savagery and relentlessness of the people in Chicago and the city itself. This quote flawlessly takes the lives of the factory workers and condenses it into a few sentences, summarizing one thing: nothing is safe in this city. Jobs, money, a place to live, and even a life can be taken away at a moment’s notice. By taking this sense of constant fear and placing it on something as na?eve and innocent as a pig, Sinclair perfectly captures the emotions and feelings of those coming to America for the first time.
Sinclair also notes on these feral instincts in places outside of the packing houses: “Here was Durham’s, for instance, owned by a man who was trying to make as much money out of it as he could, and did not care in the least how he did it; and underneath him, ranged in ranks and grades like an army, were managers and superintendents and foremen, each one driving the man next below him and trying to squeeze out of him as much work as possible. And all the men of the same rank were pitted against each other; the accounts of each were kept separately, and every man lived in terror of losing his job, if another made a better record than he. So from top to bottom the place was simply a seething caldron of jealousies and hatreds; there was no loyalty or decency anywhere about it, there was no place in it where a man counted for anything against a dollar. And worse than there being no decency, there was not even any honesty. The reason for that? Who could say? It must have been old Durham in the beginning; it was a heritage which the self-made merchant had left to his son, along with his millions” (Sinclair 84). Even in something as simple as a store, the people are so desperate they can not afford to get behind or think of others. They cheat their way to the top because it is their obligation to survive, and even then they get nowhere. Necessities in life are not given to them, so they believe it is in their right to trick the system to get what they need. These people are desperate, and from that exudes the savagery that the jungle of Chicago is built upon.
Philosophy Of Socialism In Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle goes through a series of intense struggles experienced by a Lithuanian immigrant family who have migrated to the United States in hopes for a better life. Sinclair encompasses the realities the working-class experiences in the Urban America, he creates a sense of familiarity with the migrant family, making the struggles more deeply felt, ensuring that we empathize with the victims of the capitalist society. In his writing, Sinclair does not necessarily go through the concept of capitalism, instead he reveals all the evils it creates, from the exploitation of individuals in need, to the low-quality products they carelessly sell to the public.
After going through most of the struggles that have been endured, Sinclair introduces a Character, known as Nicholas Schliemann, who discusses and advocates the political philosophy of Socialism. Sinclair’s strategic arrangement of the events in the book, gives the readers a chance to connect with the characters, empathize with them, and understand the evils of capitalism and the benefits of socialism, when it comes to the characters that have endured so much struggle. The reality that a book which was written in 1905, can still be applicable in todays world, makes The Jungle an eye-opening read, that reminds us despite our constant advancements, we are still far behind when it comes to equality. By using his book, this paper will analyze the circumstances and experiences of workers more than 100 years ago, and compare them to the current situation of workers in Urban communities, and argue the benefits of socialism.
Urban growth over the years, has been credited to natural population growth and rural to urban migration, contributing to sustained economic growth, while still somehow increasing economic equalities. The cities have provided opportunities for many, especially the poor who are attracted to better job opportunities, the availability of services, and in some cases, an escape from their constraining environments, yet they have also presented conditions of overcrowding, unemployment, inequalities, and violence.
Many of those who transition, benefit from the opportunities of an urban lifestyle, but some, fall behind, struggling with the daily challenges of the Urban transition, as was depicted in Sinclair’s novel. These people, become referred to as the “Urban Poor.” The urban poor are an outcome of economic expectations that went wrong, and they are on a rise, more than ever before. Considering the high growth predictions for most cities in developing countries, the challenges of the urban poor and the community as a whole, will only get worse and be impossible to manage. The solutions have revolved around investing in their settlements or investing in the poor themselves, but the discussion of socialism has been avoided or considered absurd for the longest time. Knowing that socialism stands for an equal standard of living for all, it is important to understand what it would truly mean for those struggling the most.
Today, those who are recognized and identified as “Urban Poor,” are people who live in urban spaces that lack basic services, such as potable water, sewers, electricity, or public light. This also includes lack of pavement streets, sidewalks, security and often lack of good public transportation. The Urban poor live with many deprivations and face many daily challenges, considering the limited access they have to employment opportunities, income, and acceptable housing and services. They are often also used to living in violent and unhealthy environments, with little or no social protection mechanisms, and limited access to adequate health and education opportunities.
We witness these people’s lives in so many different countries, especially in developing countries such as, Brazil, Kenya, and India. In Brazil, which has six to eight million fewer houses than what is needed, the outcome has been a proliferation of slum settlements occupying more than fifty million Brazilians. In Kenya, there are over two million people living in informal and inhabitable settlements within urban areas with unreliable access to electricity. The settlers have to resort to “illegal” alternatives, because they have been neglected the right to basic infrastructure by their own governments. In India, the urban poor live in slums that literally border the middle class neighborhoods. Most of them are migrants from native villages and go as an effort to create a better life. Instead they live a life where they have minimal or no access to sanitation, earn minimum wages, and in some cases, sleep in the streets, since they are unable to afford housing.
The similarity of neighborhoods in economic crisis are the hub of the poor and neglected, unlike the rich who have the means for relocation. Urban isolation creates strict divides between the poor and the rich, further results in the division of opportunities leading to social integration. Simultaneously, capitalistic states enable this social isolation for the fact that the system itself is dependent on individualism. In this environment, the urban poor who are a product of the capitalistic regime, involuntarily plays a self-destructive game. We see all of this in Sinclair’s book, where the family agrees to move into an affordable house filled with hidden costs, increasing their living expenses, pushing Ona and fourteen-year-old Stanislovas to look for jobs that eventually destroys them. The characters are all expected to work in impossible conditions, one where Ona is sexually harassed by her boss, one where Stanislovas loses fingers to frostbite due to the unmaintained work environment, and one where Dede had to pay part of his pay to his own boss and push himself to his own death in effort to make any amount of income.
With the Capitalist state, the highly competitive and consumer-driven economy disables the integration of the urban poor since it in fact, creates the urban poor. Economic causes of the urban poor date from industrialization to the technological revolution, as seen in The Jungle and today. Technology today, enables high production with less labor, and as such causes rise in unemployment, and, due to increased outsourcing, the employment demand has begun concentrating on high-educated individuals. Considering that the urban poor is often a result of perpetual poverty, they cannot afford higher education. This can be seen in Stanislovas case, where although Jurgis had high hopes for him attending school in America, he had to be put to work to help make ends meet.
The other factor that limits the poor’s capabilities and makes them easily disposal, is the fact that poverty limits their labor performance and the productivity, determining their employment contracts. The physical performance of a poor person will obviously be weak since they lack nutrition and are incapable of affording a doctor when they are sick or injured. This is evident when Jurgis sprains his ankle and has to spend around three months in bed; despite it being the poor working conditions that caused the injury, the factory cut off Jurgis’s pay till he heals. It is also shown in the case of Dede, Ona and her baby’s death during labor, and the death Kristoforas, Teta’ youngest son.
As the book goes further into the chapters, there is a shift in the behavior of the characters. They initially hold on to the hope of the “American Dream,” believing that the harder the work, the better it will get eventually. However, through the struggles, the values they were upholding seem to fade. This is evident when Jurgis resorts to violence towards Stanislovas to ensure he goes to work, violence towards Phil Conner, who forced Ona to sleep with him. Eventually, Jurgis also begins committing burglaries and muggings, and Marija becomes a prostitute and gets addicted to morphine. This shift allows readers to understand the bad decisions that are being made, are only an outcome of desperation to deal with and overcome their circumstances. The explanation for the circumstances Jurgis’s family was put into, is simply, Capitalism.
Neoliberal policies and reforms which have been an outcome of Capitalism, lead to high discrimination of vulnerable populations, including the urban poor. Neoliberal ideologies favor the private sector and object governmental interventions. These perspectives only contribute to the rich and businesses, while raising inequalities to the poor. Neoliberal policies devastate the poor because they treat them as equal to the rich. The expansion of global trade has shifted the country’s attention from wellbeing to financial profit. As Maas Alan states, “Any concession to priorities other than maximizing profit is an advantage for the other guy. In that sense, the members of the capitalist class — whatever their individual philosophies and sympathies — are disciplined by the iron rules of the free market.”
Although economic growth is considered to be an outcome of a free market, the problem remains in the unfair distribution of these profits, and the expectation of equal contribution and performances from both the rich and the poor. This expectation is now practiced worldwide, discriminates those that live in poverty and under the poverty lines. To understand the urban poor, one must be aware of the social, economic, and political effects capitalism has on the poor specifically. Simply, the capitalist state encourages neoliberal ideologies; neoliberal ideologies encourage and enable discrimination, inequality, and poverty; poverty causes fear, instability, and illness. These conditions force radical survival criminal behaviors, and an increase in the biggest crime that the state can commit to its citizens, poverty.
After illustrating the evils of capitalism, Sinclair offers socialism as the solution to the problems experienced by Jurgis and his family. Jurgis enters the socialist political meeting and there is an immediate shift, it is a sanctuary from the cruel realities of capitalism. As the speaker highlights the abuses and suffering of the laborers, Jurgis becomes an immediate convert to socialism. The speaker understands Jurgis’s experiences and addresses his needs, instead of addressing the needs of the wealthy.
For the first time, Jurgis feels welcomed and gives himself to this concept for equality the same way he gave himself for the failed American Dream. Sinclair’s drive towards socialism only makes sense. Socialism would simply ensure that the resources of society would be used to meet people’s needs. The achievements of the people would then benefit all of society rather than only a few people. The would be to replace the priority of making profit, with the well-being of the people. Consequently, resources would be owned and controlled by everyone, and decisions would be made democratically based on everyone’s needs. The transition would ensure that every single person in society has the necessities to live rich and fulfilling lives, free from violence, poverty, and oppression.
Unfortunately, the message Sinclair tried to get through, did not lead to any significant reactions. Instead, the description of rotten and contaminated meat within the meat industry, led the public to initiate new food safety laws. A passage from his book stated, “There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together.” Understandably, it caused a reaction.
The message to be taken however, is that real people are going through all the horrific experiences the characters went through in The Jungle, and unfortunately that book was written more than 100 years ago. The answer for Sinclair was socialism and for good reasons, the answer is still socialism. However, reality is we are too caught up into greedy life-style we’ve been living for far too long. A shift would need more than books, more than the struggles of millions of people, it would need the initiative of the majority, to build a truly equal society.
- Costly, Andrew. Upton Sinclairs The Jungle: Muckraking the Meat-Packing Industry – Constitutional Rights Foundation. 2008, www.crf-usa.org/bill-of-rights-in-action/bria-24-1-b-upton-sinclairs-the-jungle-muckraking-the-meat-packing-industry.html.
- Maass, Alan.The Case for Socialism (Updated). Haymarket Books, 2010.
- Martin, et al. “New Evidence on the Urbanization of Global Poverty.” New Evidence on the Urbanization of Global Poverty (English) | The World Bank, 1 July 2010, documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/371511468314708097/New-evidence-on-the-urbanization-of-global-poverty.
- Ross, Tracey. “Addressing Urban Poverty in America Must Remain a Priority.” Center for American Progress, 5 June 2013, www.americanprogress.org/issues/poverty/news/2013/06/05/65268/addressing-urban-poverty-in-america-must-remain-a-priority/.
- Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. Doubleday, Jabber & Company, 1905.
- Small, Mario Luis, and Katherine Newman. “Urban Poverty AfterThe Truly Disadvantaged: The Rediscovery of the Family, the Neighborhood, and Culture.” Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 27, no. 1, 2001, pp. 23–45., doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.27.1.23.
“There Will Be Blood” Review
The character Daniel Plainview, was a major focus throughout the movie “There Will Be Blood’ due to his connections to the oil industry. Daniel was dressed in plain colors such as tan, brown, and occasional greys. The clothing he wore symbolized the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when there was a major rush for finding oil, in order to make money to support your family. Most his outfits throughout the movie were variations of trousers, a baggy shirt, and suspenders symbolizing he was a working man in the oil company during that time frame.
Daniel’s clothes were not fancy, instead symbolizing the poverty and struggles he went through at the beginning of his life. Working in the oil company was a dirty job that would leave the employees covered in black by the time they were done with a day’s work. As the movie progressed and Daniel earned more money, the audience saw Daniel own fancier clothing such as a suit. Owning a suit during that time was a major sign of wealth and showed that he was not as much of a working man, but an overseer of his company. Throughout the movie it was prominent that Daniel felt he was better than most people based on the amount of wealth he was accumulating.
Daniel stated that he feels like the best version of himself when he is all alone and he wants to be the best. He cared about money and beating his competitors so much, he even sent his son away. Eventually, he brought his son back, but there was a big disconnect between the Daniel and H. W. (the son). The producer showed the disconnect by the distance placed between the two characters in the field and in the restaurant. Daniel didn’t care about how he treated people, he was just looking to get ahead in life. Another thing the producer did was zoom in on the side of Daniels’s face when he was in deep thought. There also were close ups on Daniel’s face whenever he would address crowds or be in an argument. Even though there were close ups on Daniel’s face, he rarely look the audience in the eye. The audience saw Daniel progress into a man that began losing his mind as shown in many of the close-up images, showing the anger in his eyes.
Finally, throughout the film Eli’s and Daniel’s relationship can represent the relationship of God and a human being. Eli represents God trying to bring Daniel to the Lord and realize what he is doing to those surrounding him. Eli also believes that Daniel being connected to the Lord will help his oil company and his overall happiness. However, the very last scenes of the movie reverse the characters rolls in the movie. This time Eli is looking for guidance and goes to Daniel for help. Instead of being the helping hand, Daniel kills Eli.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Book Review
The Jungle Book Review
In The Jungle, Upton Sinclair weaves the plight of immigrant workers in the late 1800’s into an emotionally compelling narrative that chronicles the hardships of a Lithuanian family that has just moved to Chicago. Sinclair uses the brutal and emotionally hard-hitting story of this family (which is mostly run by the patriarch, Jurgis) and the trials it faces as a tool by which to rationalize his socialist views and as a method by which to convince the reader of these views’ correctness. Over the course of the novel, Sinclair highlights certain portions of capitalist philosophy that he believes are inhumane or ironic, and he depicts capitalism to be an evil that leeches off of Jurgis and his family. By unearthing the inherent problems in American capitalism, Sinclair effectively defaces the pompous idea of the ‘American dream’ of the 1800’s, replacing it with a sense of skepticism towards the American capitalist system.
Sinclair opens the story with the wedding feast of two central characters, Ona and Jurgis. From the start, the evils of the American system can be seen; in the opening pages of the book, Sinclair describes ‘leeches’ at the wedding feast, saying that these immoral people came to the feast, ate, and left without giving back. He blatantly blames this on the unfairness of the American system, saying that “since they [Ona, Yurgis, and their family] had come to the new country, all this was changing”, with the word “this” referring to the good-heartedness that was present in Lithuania, but absent in America (17). As the story progresses, Sinclair tears down the seemingly perfect idea of the American dream piece by piece. He highlights the irony of the “realization of triumph [that] swept over” Jurgis upon getting a job by immediately following it with gruesome descriptions of the working conditions at Packingtown (34). Soon after this, Sinclair clearly articulates his thesis through Tamoszius Kuszleika’s comment about the omnipresent and ubiquitous nature of corruption in a capitalist society. In this seemingly methodical way, Sinclair sheds light on his contentions with capitalism, and he concludes by offering his alternative; socialism. The last three chapters are largely a method by which Sinclair propagandizes his views, abandoning the narrative and offering his solution to the problems he has previously explored.
While The Jungle effectively does its job in bringing the problems of corruption and sanitation in the workplace to light, it contains more than a few flaws in terms of its usefulness as an all-encompassing account of the labor front in the late 1800’s. The roots of the narrative’s bias can be traced to its purpose; Sinclair, in writing the book, tries to convince the reader of the evils of capitalism and the beauty of socialism, and he does this by using the harsh story of Jurgis’ family as a way to appeal to the reader’s emotions. This very nature of the book as a method of political propaganda renders a bias inevitable; the fact that it was written as a political weapon rather than a historical account of a time period guarantees that one side of the argument will be glorified and the other will be ignored. Therefore, when reading The Jungle, the reader is, by design, only exposed to the immigrant’s side of the story and no one else’s. Furthermore, one must ultimately treat Sinclair’s writing with skepticism, as the narrative is a work of fiction. Even though he uses legitimate evidence in order to construct his story, one must realize that ultimately, Sinclair is trying to convince the reader of a certain view, and that he has employed the use of fiction in many parts of the book. While the narrative does expose many horrific, sometimes hard-to-digest truths about the evils of capitalism, in the end, its form and function take away from its value as a complete historical account, as it fails to give the reader a complete and overall historical truth.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Literary Review
The Jungle Review
During the Progressive Era of the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, conditions for the average labourer were very poor and worsening day by day. There were very few safety regulations, and gruesome deaths occurred frequently in almost every line of work the average laborer was qualified for . Work days were unreasonably long, usually 12 hours in one day, and sometimes more. This resulted in the formation of unions that fought against their unfair work conditions; naturally, the big corporations that were being opposed retaliated, and the rift between classes grew . The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair in 1906, explores the lives of a family of immigrant workers trying to make a living in Chicago during this time . Many problems and ideas that were present during the time were expressed in the narrative of their lives, including chasing the elusive American Dream, class differences, the rising appeal of Socialism among workers.
The book follows a Lithuanian family traveling to the United States because they had heard about the great opportunities there. Their final goal is Chicago, and when they finally arrive there, they start to search for jobs and a permanent home. One of the first places they see is the stockyards, where animals are killed and the meat is processed. Here, as the group watches the slaughtering of the pigs, the reader is introduced to the falsehood of the American Dream:
“One could not stand and watch very long without becoming philosophical . . . Each one of these hogs was a separate creature . . . And each of them had an individuality of his own, a will of his own, a hope and a heart’s desire; each was full of self-confidence, of self-importance, and a sense of dignity. And trusting and strong in faith he had gone about his business, the while a black shadow hung over him and a horrid Fate waited in his pathway. Now suddenly it had swooped upon him, and had seized him by the leg. Relentless, remorseless, it was; all his protests, his screams, were nothing to it . . . Who would take this hog into his arms and comfort him, reward him for his work well done, and show him the meaning of his sacrifice? . . . Our friends were not poetical, and the sight suggested to them no metaphors of human destiny; they thought only of the wonderful efficiency of it all.”
This excerpt not only illustrates one of the many horrors of the meat industry, it also gives the reader a glimpse into the fate of “our friends” (as they are often referred to by the narrator). It serves as foreshadowing that they didn’t pick up on; they were too captivated by the efficiency of the system to realize the cruel metaphor.
After trying their hardest to make a living in Chicago, having to work dangerous jobs for long hours and unreasonably low pay, and losing the lives of some of their family members, they felt like they were merely existing, and living was not possible.“They were lost, they were going down—and there was no deliverance for them, no hope; for all the help it gave them the vast city in which they lived might have been an ocean waste, a wilderness, a desert, a tomb.”⁴ — and possibly a jungle.
The title of the book alludes to the wild, survival-of-the-fittest way of life that kept Chicago economically afloat. In the wild, natural selection weeds out the weaker species and allows the stronger species to carry on surviving. The same principle existed in Chicago during the Progressive Era; the wealthy higher-ups would continue surviving, while those of lower social standing were left to die out. This concept was known as Social Darwinism , and it was touched upon in The Jungle. The reader sees both ends of the spectrum as the narrative follows Jurgis Rudkus, a member of the Lithuanian family. He worked for years in various low paying jobs, including in the meat packing and fertilizer departments. However, when his grandfather, wife, and son all die as a result of the sort of life they are forced to live, Jurgis makes his way into the politics of Chicago, and the reader discovers just how corrupt the system is. Despite the fact that it is corrupt, all of these people of power have a better chance of survival than any of the workers that carry them through life.
The Jungle also discussed the gaping hole between the upper and lower classes during the Progressive Era. The lower class works for almost nothing, and the upper class takes what the lower class earns; the gap was widening rapidly, and it was very difficult to rise in class.
“And so all over the world two classes were forming, with an unbridged chasm between them—the capitalist class, with its enormous fortunes, and the proletariat, bound into slavery by unseen chains. The latter were a thousand to one in numbers, but they were ignorant and helpless, and they would remain at the mercy of their exploiters until they were organized—until they had become “class-conscious.”
This quote summarized the class conflict exactly; it also brings about the concept of “class-consciousness”. Being class-conscious is being aware that you are in the lower class for unfair reasons, and being aware that you can change that for yourself.
Overall, The Jungle illustrated the hardships (to say the least) of the honest worker in the Progressive Era of America. Although life was rough, as pointed out by the narrative of the family, changes were always happening, and the fight for fair labor wouldn’t end until the workmen were given a fair chance at a living.