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The Plight of Workers - Assignment Example

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Date: The plight of workers Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle, is an exposition of the filth and exploitation in the meat packing industry in Chicago in the early twentieth century. Though it predominantly revolves around this single economic sector, it explores the exploitative capitalistic system and labor practices of the early twentieth century…
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The Plight of Workers
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Download file to see previous pages In the early years of twentieth century there was a massive inflow of immigrants in the United States of America. The poor immigrants were beckoned into America by the alleged abundant opportunities. Upon arrival they provided a reservoir of cheap labor to factories and other businesses. The dilapidated tenements were the abode of choice for many of them. The houses had no clean water or sewerage system. Life in these slums was unbearable.1 Chicago was strategically located with a cattle rearing hinterland. This gave rise to a mammoth meat packing sector which needed thousand of unskilled labor. It was a city of contrast with magnificent buildings owned by the factory owners and the slums housing the laborers. The working condition was akin to slavery and the meat packing process was unhealthy. Apart from the misery in the meat packing factories, the filth and toxics from the factories found their way into the local rivers. The entire macabre situation is captured through the life of an immigrant Lithuanian family. It narrates their struggles to adapt to a new life and a series of misfortune that befalls them in the process. Upon arrival the future looks bright with prospects of getting jobs in the slaughter house.2 The cheer magnitude of the deplorable conditions is not only evidenced by the dilapidated buildings housing the workers but the land upon which the houses are built. It is a waste land reclaimed by filling soil mining pits with garbage resulting to a perpetual stench. Jurgis however, views the idea as a brilliant innovation. This notion depicts a common believe of many immigrants who were buoyed by idea of being in the land of opportunities. Jurgis can not understand the negative altitude of his fellow workers in the slaughter house. But slowly he encounters episodes in his work place and outside which makes him realize all is not well. He realizes pregnant cows are slaughtered for meat against the law and Antana’s dubious job offer. Perhaps the single event that eventually leads to the break up of Jurgis’ family is the attempt to purchase a house. Apart from the difficulties in raising the required amount they discover the contract is fraudulent. The house is worth much less than indicated and there are hidden interest charges. The subsequent financial burden ignites a series of events that eventually shatters the family’s American dream that lured them into America in the first place. All members of the family including children are sent to work in order to keep the family financially afloat. Considering the financial burden the family is facing Ona is silent of her rape ordeal by her boss. Once Jurgis learns of the ordeal he fights Ona’s boss and he is subsequently jailed for thirty days. With the exit of Jurgis the main contributor to their house project, they are evicted. The family suffers anguish and frustration which results to the death of several of the family members. Dejected, Jurgis becomes a drifter hopping from place to place is search of solace and work. Eventually he returns back to Chicago and embarks on criminal activities. The changed Jurgis intends to hit back to the society against which he is aggrieved. He engages in activities ranging from mugging to rigging of the election. However he fails to improve his fortune through this path until he accidentally stumbles upon a Socialist Party ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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