Quick Review Of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle"

1168 words - 5 pages

Upton Sinclair's The Jungle is a very powerful piece of literature devoted to shaking the corrupt foundations of the meat packing industries of Chicago during the turn of the century. Sinclair's purpose is clear: to expose the truth about the filthy ways of the city's establishments and to deliver justice to the common workingman. In order to achieve his desired goal, Sinclair incorporates the use of a fictional, immigrant family in the city of Chicago. By telling the story of this family, he reveals factual evidence of the improprieties committed by the meat packing industry, along with other industries as well, during the time. The family he created for his purpose was a group of fresh immigrants from Lithuania, coming to America in hope of a better life. Sinclair picked Chicago among other cities as the setting because Chicago had the worst examples of the poor living conditions of average people. Sinclair begins the book with mild revelations of corruption. When the family first arrived to their destination, they were subject to many schemes which either tricked them or took their money. [In Chapters 4-7] He reveals how real estate agents misled them into believing they owned the house they paid weekly for, and how the charges of interest were conveniently left out of their conversations. The family could barely understand English, much less be able to read a contract for a house. They would have their whole family set to work, and could barely survive of the scraps of food they bought while paying for the house, which was rather old, although they were told it was brand new. Such examples of trickery are described throughout the entire book. Another such example would be when Jurgis, the main character and patriarch of the diminishing immigrant family, had managed to get a hold of a one hundred dollar bill, and when he was forced to buy something with it because he had not a cent other than that one note, he was robbed of $99 and beaten by the bartender and a policemen into unconsciousness (pg. 242). However, such small schemes were only a side focus of the book. Sinclair's main focus was on the meat-packing plants and the poor living conditions of the creatures which worked in them. Sinclair, who witnessed everything described in the book with his own eyes, reveals to his audience the disgusting treatment of the food products that were sold and congested everyday. Sinclair talks of lazy, unfocused meat inspectors, and the packing of hogs that were infested with Cholera, or cattle that had been dead for much too long. He talks of a "Bubbly Creek", in which these plants dump thousands of chemicals daily, until it becomes one "great open sewer a hundred or two feet wide" (pg.97). Chapter 9 of the book is choc-full of disgusting insights into the ways of the plants. Everything was done to make money; Workers were over-worked and under-paid in conditions unfit for a human being, meat came from diseased animals and sold as...

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