Two Views Of The Working Class Of Chicago

1787 words - 7 pages

Hawa AbdallaDr. Kenneth ScherzerHistory 2020-D01July 20th, 2014Comparison of the Two Views of the Working Class In ChicagoAt the turn of the 20th century, Chicago, which was famously known for being the meat packing industry capital in the United States, was almost entirely composed of hopeful yet ignorant immigrants. With the hopeful wishes of coming to the United States to become successful and wealthy, many immigrants readily accepted jobs that seemed to be the metaphorical genie to grant them their wishes. However sooner than later, these same immigrants would be the same ones to second-guess their decision and have their dreams tainted and shattered. In the historical texts The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and Back of the Yards by Robert Slayton, the two authors strived to explain to audiences worldwide the exact hardships and struggles the working class in Chicago had to endure to simply provide for their families and to make a living. Although Sinclair and Slayton both attempted to address these hardships, both authors had different ways of interpreting the happenings that occurred during this period of time such as the relationships, community, and political occurrences.In The Jungle written by Upton Sinclair, Sinclair approaches the subject of the stockyards in a more gruesome and shocking manner. Written as a novel, Sinclair focuses on the protagonist of the novel Jurgis Rudkus and his family's lives. Recently married and new to America, Jurgis is determined to become the breadwinner for his family and work hard to provide for them. Therefore when he finds a job working at Packingtown, the center of the meat industry, Jurgis becomes quickly elated and is more than certain that his future in America would certainly be more than bright. However as time elapses, he is quickly faced with the harsh realities of these meat factories and all of the underlying schemes that come along with it. The job that once made him feel as if he was on top of the world would soon become the reasoning for the destruction of his life and family. Although it is merely a story about a fictional family, it has very realistic traits to the storyline. For example, the illustration of the poverty and the hardships that the Rudkus family endured might closely relate to the story of other immigrants in Chicago.In writing this novel Sinclair exposed the horribly unsanitary working conditions and strenuous labor that the workmen and women were being forced to endure in the Chicago Stock Yards. These major meat factories such as Packingtown were paying these men and women little to no money for backbreaking work that lasted hours on end. Through the scalding heat of the summer and the harsh winds in the winter, these workers were still reporting to work in conditions that were nearly impossible to work or function in. For example, Sinclair writes,The men would tie up their feet in newspapers and old sacks, and these would be soaked in blood and frozen, and then soaked...

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