Upton Sinclair, one of the most influential writers of his time, wrote the novel “The Jungle” in the year 1906. Sinclair’s main purpose in this novel was to explain and portray the life of the immigrants in the United States of America. …
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The novel on a whole explains and condemns the poverty of the immigrants, their living conditions and it throws light on the working conditions for these immigrants in the industry. The despair and hopelessness that prevailed among the immigrants who worked as lower class workers is represented by an example of a huge family of 12 members. Sinclair’s novel became very popular as it stressed on improving the conditions for the industrial workers and also exposed the faults of the system. Upton cleverly uncovered the faults in capitalism (Sinclair). Moreover, this despair is clearly contrasted with those who were in power at that time that is the top management. Sinclair's novel provides a means of depicting the corruption prevalent in those times and the need for changing the American wage slavery (Young, 467). The novel also has a short hand version as it is widely used as a course curriculum in the universities and colleges.
The immigration of a huge number of people bought in cheap labor for the industrialists. There were no safety precautions applied by the top management for the lower class workers and an injured worker was easily replaced by a healthy one. Wages were also kept low because many laborers were available to work for tiny amount of money. This showed the prevalent poverty at that time. Children as young as eight were forced to work to earn money and there was no limit for a worker to work per hour of a day. Many multiple families shared single room apartments to live as a result of this poverty. The novel is a fiction though but still is considered close to realism as it depicts the actual conditions of the period in the States. Upton uncovered many harsh truths by relating to a family, the family of Jurgis Rudkus who is also the main character in the novel. Jurgis has a huge family who migrates to the city of Chicago from Lithuania. Jurgis had to work in Chicago's meatpacking industry to save himself and his family from starvation. It is through this main character that the novelist reveals the harshness of the Beef Trust which eventually forced the government to execute regulatory laws. Ona Rudkus is Jurgis's wife who follows her husband to the United States from Lithuania, along with her family. She also works in the meatpacking plants like her husband while Elzbieta Lukoszaite is Jurgis wife, Ona's stepmother. She also struggles to keep her family from starvation and tragically looses two of her children to early death. Jurgis Rudkus and his entire family, consisting of a total 12 members basically came to the States to seek their fortune but the moment the family migrated from Lithuania, they faced serious problems regarding their survival. From the beginning, they have to make compromises to survive. The language barrier and hence their illiteracy in English made them victims of a lending scheme who persuaded them to make bad economic decisions in hope of their own home according to which the family went into debt. This devastated the family altogether as it exhausts all their savings on a sub-standard slum house. Before the migration, the family had thought that Jurgis alone would be able to support them in the United States, but then eventually all of them including the women, children, and Rudkus's sick father had to work. The ways that the family uses to stay alive and to find jobs lead to their moral as well as physical decay. The family finds jobs at the gigantic meatpacking plants and slaughter houses. Jurgis and his family realize the hardships associated with living in the States and also what they had thought before migrating was just a wild dream. For them, America was nothing more than a land of
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(“THE JUNGLE BY UPTON SINCLAIR Book Report/Review”, n.d.)
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(THE JUNGLE BY UPTON SINCLAIR Book Report/Review)
“THE JUNGLE BY UPTON SINCLAIR Book Report/Review”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/history/1392801-the-jungle-by-upton-sinclair.
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