Book review on the jungle - Essay Example

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Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle: A Cautionary Tale for Our Times Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is a damning portrait of what life was like around the turn of the century for the very poor. It is a world where workers toil in unimaginable conditions; where people are unscrupulous; and where life is unjust…
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Book review on the jungle
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Download file to see previous pages Moreover, one must have The Jungle in mind when listening to the conservative arguments for a better America. In their view, if businesses would be deregulated and if “superfluous” agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency, or perhaps the Food and Drug Administration, could be defunded or eliminated, businesses would go gangbusters. They are also against unions. In other words, in the Conservative view, the United States should return to a time that is similar to the era surrounding The Jungle. However, as The Jungle shows, if there are no constraints on businesses and the only motive is profit, then workers and society in general, are the losers. There is no better argument for “excessive” regulations and labor unions than this book. Summary The novel The Jungle centers around the trials and tribulations of a Lithuanian immigrant named Jurgis Rudkus. Jurgis comes to America in the hope of having a better life and more opportunity than what he had in his home country. Instead, he finds an America where corruption runs rampant and there are few regulations on unscrupulous individuals and companies. Therefore there is little incentive to behave judiciously. For instance, Jurgis is taken advantage of by his boss in his meatpacking job and the conditions at the meatpacking factory are extremely poor. There was little inspection of what was going on in the slaughterhouses therefore there was a great chance that the meat would be contaminated by microbes. Moreover, the animals were treated extremely poorly. The book also describes a predatory lending scheme to which Jurgis and his bride, Ona, succumb, which drains their savings and leads to their eviction. Jurgis’ job alone is not enough to support the family, so Ona also has to take a job. However, Ona gets raped by her boss and, when Jurgis goes to defend her honor by attacking her boss, Phil Connor, Jurgis is imprisoned. There are other mishaps that befall Jurgis as well. Ona dies in childbirth, partially because of an incompetent midwife, Madame Haupt and Jurgis’ first child drowns in the muddy street. After this, Jurgis despairs and tries the life of an itinerant. However, he finds that he can only find temporary farm work, as he is turned out after the harvest. Eventually, Jurgis finds solace in socialism, as he gets involved in the socialist movement and a fellow socialist employs him. The book ends with Jurgis’ attendance at a socialist rally. Context Sinclair’s purpose for writing this book was to essentially wake up the American people to working conditions for the poor and expose corruption of those in power. It was an attempted contrast to the ideal of America, which is that America is the land of the free, home of the brave and stands up for liberty and justice, with the reality of America at that time. This reality was that America was a land of oppression and injustice and the capitalists got rich on the backs of the workers. This was a time before the Food and Drug Administration, before there were regulations, before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed. In this way, the novel is definitely a polemic, as it attacks the establishment directly, as well as the hierarchy of power in the country, by showing the microcosm of slaughterhouses in Chicago and the overall life of one immigrant. The novel is put into ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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