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Modern Day Relevance Of Sinclair's The Jungle

917 words - 4 pages

The Jungle was first published in 1906. Contemporary critics disagree about whether or not the novel has any “relevance” for modern readers. What do YOU think?

I believe this novel has somewhat of a relevance for modern readers in today’s society.
In the world of economic competition that we live in today, many thrive and many are left to dig through trash cans. It has been a constant struggle throughout the modern history of society. One widely prescribed example of this struggle is Upton Sinclair's groundbreaking novel, The Jungle. The Jungle takes the reader along on a journey with a group of recent Lithuanian immigrants to America. As well as a physical journey, this is a journey into a new world for them. They have come to America, where in the early twentieth century it was said that any man willing to work an honest day, would make a living and could support his family. It is an ideal that all Americans are familiar with one of the foundations that got American society where it is today. However, while telling this story, Upton Sinclair engages the reader in a symbolic and metaphorical war against capitalism. Sinclair's contempt for capitalist society is present throughout the novel, from cover to cover, personified in the eagerness of Jurgis to work, the constant struggle for survival of the workers of Packingtown, the corruption of "the man" at all levels of society, and in many other ways. 

  To understand the ways in which political systems are important to this novel, it is necessary to define both capitalism and socialism as they are relevant to The Jungle. Capitalism, and more specifically, laissez-faire capitalism, is the economic system in America. It basically means that producers and consumers have the right to accumulate and spend their money through any legal means they choose. It is the economic system most fitting with the idea of the American Dream. The American Dream portrays the idea that if a man is lazy, he might not do so well, but if a man wants to work and educate himself and try to create a fortune, there is nothing standing in his way. Some believe that Capitalism is the cause for much of the poverty in the nation today, but any hardcore capitalist will tell you that capitalism inherited poverty, and far from being a cause of poverty, it is the only solution. 
 The symbols of socialism and capitalism are present right from the start in this story. Sinclair first depicts the Lithuanian event with many of the same things and the partygoers with many of the same values (i.e. getting drunk, dancing) as we might see today to give the reader a sense of identity with the Lithuanians. He is beginning to get the...

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