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Why Is The Jungle A Primary Source?

993 words - 4 pages

Primary sources are used by people who have experienced specific events in their lives. They allow a reader to connect to them on a more relatable basis. Primary sources are also very reliable because the author of a book or newspaper article, for example, was actually there. So they have all the evidence they need for what is being documented. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, is a primary source because Jurgis actually went through the hard labor conditions that occurred in the Progressive Era (1900-1916). The Jungle puts a face to the issues of grueling work hours, poor working conditions, unbearable living arrangements, exploitation of the poor, and uneducated working class. Issues of Industrial Democracy, child labor, and the minimum wage became so important to Americans during this period. This Era saw a change in some of the main reasons that controlled American individualism after the unrestrained years of the late 19th century; arguments over labor, social conflict, and unstable economy.
With the growth of industry in the United States, the population of cities began to grow substantially (Tovanche Lecture). They started providing job opportunities in factories, offices, and other places as well. The cities became the main center of wealth and also poverty. A huge class of the impoverished lived in slums. Some even lived underground in the sewers, and a huge percentage of the poor came from newly arrived immigrants who were coming to America in large numbers from poor areas of Europe to find better opportunities. Certain slummy areas such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc. were places they ended up. The cities were very dirty and ridded with horse carcasses. (Tovanche Lecture). Labor disputes erupted from the rise of “big business” and huge factories. More and more people such as women and children started working for these large companies. Working hours were very long with low wages. The labor of worker seldom allowed for any resting times during their shifts. Another issue was the conditions of the food in factories, which were horrific in some cases. Upton Sinclair brought these issues to light in chapter 9 of The Jungle. In one instance, “A physician made the discovery that the carcasses of steers which had been condemned as tubercular by the government inspectors…were left upon an open platform and carted away to be sold in the city..” Jurgis, a character in the novel, was highly aware of this irresponsibility and other small crimes from other employees.
Social conflict spewed across all of America. The corruption of government, for example, seemed to surface occasionally during the Progressive Era. Since the end of the Civil War, the government of the United States became more and more influenced by certain “special interest” groups. These groups strived to sway the making of laws by coercing numerous people who held elective offices. The strongest of these groups were the big businesses, as government became more under their...

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