Review Of The Novel “The Jungle” By Upton Sinclair

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Hillary Clinton once said, “We are a country where people of all backgrounds, all nations of origin, all languages, all religions, all races, can make a home. America was built by immigrants.” In the novel, The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair, Jurgis and his family had immigrated to America in search for a better life. Throughout their tragic experiences in America, it is clearly shown that their hopes about this country were wrong, which made Jurgis and his family regret their decision of moving. Furthermore, migrating to America can also cause one to change the way they view their perception of life which reflects the way they act towards themself and others.

As the family grew tense of the frigid weather that winter has to offer, Jurgis beats his son, Stanislovas, so that he can continue his journey to work. The author states, “All that day and night the family was half-crazed with fear that Ona and the boy had lost their places:and in the morning they set out earlier than ever, after the little fellow had been beaten with a single stick by Jurgis” (Sinclair 118). Because it is winter and it’s snowing in Chicago, Stanislovas has been suffering from frost bites and ultimately damages the joints of his fingers permanently. Subsequently, Stanislovas is afraid of going outside which makes Jurgis beat him to force him to go to work on snowy mornings. Because of Jurgis’s temper, he turns to violence against his son. His rage comes from feeling like a burden to his family after being incapable of providing for them because of his sprained ankle. Jurgis changes from being innocent to a low-tempered man who abuses his son; not only is Stanislovas affected by his father’s change in attitude, but Ona is also concerned by it as she has to see the cruelty that her son has to go through. Sinclair is trying to depict that the harsh conditions wage laborers went through lead to their suffering and take over of their love and priority for their children because of the focus that they need to gain enough money to supply their family.

After Ona had died, Jurgis had took Kotrina’s money that she’d earned from selling papers and went to a saloon for several drinks. The author claims, “…she put her hand into her pocket and pulled out a lump of coins tied in a bit of rag…Jurgis took it without a word,and went out of the door and down the street… three doors away was a saloon”(Sinclair 184). Jurgis’s wife, Ona, had died after giving premature labor to her newborn that has also past away. Unable to face the fact and needing to relieve his emotions, Jurgis forces Kortina to give him the three dollars that she had made from selling papers and uses it to buy drinks at the saloon. Jurgis has become a very selfish person which is affecting the lives of his family members. He could have saved Kotrina’s money into supplying food, rent, and even for Ono’s burial; instead, Jurgis uses the money for his own benefits, which is to get drunk to avoid agony. Sinclair provides insight on the tragedies that immigrants who have travelled to America had faced. Many immigrants have moved to the United states for a better life and fortune, but Sinclair has clearly shown that this is not the case as they actually have to face difficult challenges that may lead to their miseries. One example being of destroying the lives of loved ones due to poverty that is created by capitalism.

After being in prison, Jurgis had decided to follow Jack Duane, into mugging people for their money. Their first victim was a man from the working-class. The author expresses, “Duane stole out as silently as a shadow, and a second later Jurgis heard a thud and a stifled cry…he leaped to the man’s mouth…transferring the contents into his own pockets” (Sinclair 237). Jack Duane was a friend of Jurgis who he had encountered twice in prison. After Jurgis was released from prison, he decided to find Duane who was hiding out from the police in a pawnshop. Jurgis then agreed into helping duane mug innocent people for their money. Throughout this chapter, we see that Jurgis has changed into a rebellious person who left the rest of his family to survive on their own. He turns to illegal actions to “fight back” with the world as he feels the right to defend himself from the difficulties that it put him through. Sinclair shows the failures upon the immigrants who have came to America. Their idea of coming to the U.S to seek more money to supply enough for their family to live a better life have left the immigrants to their disappointment. Their misfortune from the capitalist system has made a negative impact on them as it can be a threat to a potential family and it can possibly cause one to turn to illegal actions as well.


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