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The Jungle By Upton Sinclair, And How It Captures The Zeitgeist Of The Early 1900's.

1789 words - 7 pages

Schwartz, AaronEnglish 11 AP06/08/05Hard Work Does Not Pay OffA novel can be more than just a story. Once read, every novel leaves a mark on the reader affecting his view on the subject. A novel can also be more than just entertainment. It can change a person's life, or even an entire society. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair did just this. It changed the way people thought. Not only did it change the way people thought, it changed the way people think today. The way we see the early 1900's now, without having experienced it ourselves, is through media. One of the most powerful forms of media is a novel. Using writing, Sinclair captures this era through fiction. The Jungle is just one strand in the giant media web that makes up what we believe the early 1900's was really like. But it is definitely one of the bigger links. So much so that it is talked about in history books as if the story really happened at the time. In The Jungle, Sinclair effectively catches the zeitgeist of the early 1900's in American history. He portrays the feelings of immigrant workers coming to America and captures the struggle they go through to achieve a piece of the American dream. Sinclair uses Jurgis as a symbol for the typical immigrant worker of the time to describe what the 1900's were really like.Sinclair captures the main element of the zeitgeist of the time, the mindset of the immigrant workers coming to America because they want a piece of the American dream. Our view on how immigrants thought at the time is greatly affected by this novel. Our view of immigrant workers is shaped through this novel taking us through the history of an immigrant family. Sinclair shows us how badly they were treated, and how hard working they were willing to be. But mostly, we remember how much they wanted to be part of the so-called American dream. Sinclair demonstrates this will to succeed through his fictitious characters. He describes what immigrants would think before deciding to come to America. After Jonas suggests that they all go to America, he writes, "Jurgis, too, had heard of America...In that country, rich or poor, a man was free, it was said... He might do as he pleased, and count himself as good as any other man. So America was a place of which lovers and young people dreamed"(29). We imagined that immigrants truly believed that America was a utopia, where everyone had a fair chance at being happy and rich. It was their "dream" to come to America, to find a better life. Jurgis, along with everyone else had heard of this place called America and its greatness. What they did not know, according to Sinclair, is that this was simply not true. Without as many media sources at the time, most other countries only received a few facts about America, all of which indicated the positives about it. This American dream was the reason people began their struggle in the first place. Jurgis demonstrates the immigrant's wish to escape countries with poor economic status and corrupt...

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