The Issue of Social Injustice in Jungle by Upton Sinclair
American history has always been dominated by those individuals who have challenged themselves with causes. Sinclair was a leading “muckraker,” a group of early twentieth-century American journalists and writers who sought to initiate reforms by exposing social and political excesses and abuses, and variously admired and excoriated by critics, the novel is responsible for bringing to light the appalling working and sanitary conditions of Chicago’s slaughterhouses.
The Jungle is one of the best-known pieces of the muckraker movement. Sinclair used The Jungle as a way to make America aware of the corruption of Chicago’s meat packing industry and the general corruption of capitalism. He did this by telling the story of a group of Lithuanian immigrants who came to America seeking fortune, freedom, and opportunity. These hopes for the new world perished in jungle of human suffering. Sinclair’s answer to the horrible conditions in packinghouses, wage slavery, and anguish of laborers was socialist reform.
The Jungle gives multiple implications to the contemporary labor relations which are still vulnerable to the same pitfalls which persist because of the nature of the US capitalist system and traditions of the US labor relations. In the “Gilded Age” immigrants from all over the world became part of America’s working nation in hopes of finding a new and better life for themselves and their families. As more and more new families moved to America with high hopes, more and more people fell victims to the organized society, politics, and institutions better described as, the system. The system was like a jungle, implying that only the strong survived and the weak perished. Bosses always picked the biggest and strongest from a throng of people desperate for work, and if you were big and strong, you were more likely to get the job then if you were small and weak. Sinclair shows clearly the wide gap between the employer and the employee. The main character of the book is struggling for survival, while owners of plants rip off high profits and stay wealthy. In such a way, the author clearly shows the wide gap between the rich and poor in the US, which is actually the gap between owners of businesses and their employees. In actuality, this trend persists, although it is not so obvious as it used to be in the past. In fact, the gap between owners of business and employees was the distinct feature of capitalism and this gap could be easily traced since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the US. More important, the beginning of the industrial revolution accelerated the widening gap between owners of businesses and large corporations, on the one hand, and workers on the other.
Thus, the book Jungle by Upton Sinclair reveals the social injustice that persisted in the US in the early 20th century. However, the book raises many issues, which are still relevant today, such as the workplace safety, employees’ rights, labor relations, government policies in relation to labor relations, sexual harassment, social security and injustice and many other important issues. Upton Sinclair shows the desperate position of the working class in the US and clearly indicates the shift to socialism as the only solution to the problem of social injustice. In this regard, his solution is debatable but the point is that problems raised by Sinclair in his book were and, to a certain extent, are relevant and affect many people. The economic disparity and the unfair redistribution of the national wealth is the major problem that causes other issues and widens gaps between the rich and the poor in the US.
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