Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML: Upton Sinclair's The Jungle is a novel portraying the corruption of the American meat industry in the early part of the twentieth century. The dismal living and working conditions and sense of hopelessness prevalent among the impoverished workers is compared to the corruption of the rich. Upton aimed to make such "wage slavery" issues center-stage in the minds of the American public. Despite already being serialized, it was rejected as a novel five times before being published in 1906, when it quickly became a bestseller..
It was absolutely heart wrenching following Jurgis Rudkus, the main character, and his constant failed attempts to provide for his family. An immigrant from Lithuania, he came
What they didn't know is they would have to work fourteen hour days under horrible conditions to make enough to barely survive.
It's amazing how spoiled today's society is. I could never handle this type of work. The difference between now and a hundred years ago is staggering to behold. When reading The Jungle, it is obvious to the reader the luxuries available to them that were inconceivable back then.
And the losses that Jurgis had to cope with! He survived as he watched member after member of his family die. You see him at his strongest, his weakest, his cruelest. You are there, pitying him when he is forced to sleep under cars in the dead of winter and you are there, cursing him as he allows himself get sucked into the system, making his living off of the misery of others when he becomes a boss at one of the stockyards. You see how the misery finally trumps even the strongest soul. Every man has a breaking point, a point where he will do anything to survive.
Apart from being a real eye opener, Sinclair's prose is amazing. His descriptions of events and sights put you right in the middle of Chicago's stockyards. I didn't even notice when paragraphs went on for more than a page because I was so involved with every single sentence. The book opens with a wedding feast and you can smell the food and hear the laughter and music and see the couples dancing. When Jurgis first sees the inside of a stockyard, you are right there, witnessing the horrible sight. It's extremely powerful.
I usually never give a book five stars because so few are really, truly good. However, I don't think I could give The Jungle anything but five stars. This book makes me wish there was an option for a sixth star.
Sinclair's writing is centered around the character Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant with hopes of making it big in America. He, along with his family and the woman he plans on marrying, Ona, travel to Chicago, where it is said that fortunes are made. However, the evil of this society, with the all-powerful The Beef Trust and political machines, drive them into poverty and despair.
The family, unaware of the ways of this capitalist America, gets kicked down at every opportunity. And as their savings from the Old Country dwindles, taken away by cruel, thieving agents who exploit their ignorance, their spirit and hope fade away as well. With the entire family working 16 hours a day and still not making enough to survive, they experience death, tragedy, unemployment, and desperation. The descriptions of the atrocities Sinclair describes are disturbing and, for me, were previously unimaginable. One finds no chance of hope or success in their struggle till finally, when Jurgis has absolutely nothing left for him, he discovers Socialism.
This book has made a powerful impact on my view of the American workplace. I found myself enraptured by the vivid descriptions of the struggles of these immigrants, and feeling a great remorse for their losses. Although the ending of the novel is controversial among literary critics, I found it to be a suitable and solid close to the historical and truthful brilliance of Sinclair’s greatest work.
The story follows an immigrant man and his family trying to survive in the packing district of turn-of-the-century Chicago, and details the corruption and filth of the packing companies and the devastating lives the workers led. Fascinating and horrible. And important. And
I found myself on the edge of my seat as I read this book. The descriptions of the conditions faced by Jurgis and his family were appalling. Each time I thought that they had finally caught a break, another tragedy befell the family. Sinclair provides insight into the meat packing industry, labor practices, Chicago politics and socialism as Jurgis searches for a way to overcome the system. The story was most effective when this historical background was woven with the story of Jurgis and his family. However, near the end of the book, Sinclair began to rely more on straight description, as Jurgis observed the workings of the Socialist party. Despite a rather abrupt ending, Sinclair's style was very effective in bringing to light the conditions of the times.
This book is an incredibly accurate story of city life in the 1800's to 1900's. It covers many aspects of what life was like including getting and keeping a job, buying a house, living day to day off a few cents (if that), corruption, the purchase of votes, bosses, tramping, and the rise of socialism. It was incredible to see how quickly one person's life could change-- just when I thought the story was coming to a close, a new twist would open up a dozen new doors.
Although this book did cause people to become unsure about the cleanliness of the beef products they were consuming, Upton Sinclair wrote this book with the intention of exposing the hardships of the poor in the industrial cities. I went into this book expecting to come out a vegetarian, but instead I gained valuable insight about the experiences of the masses in America. This book has shown me how far our country has come in one hundred years and has helped me appreciate what my life is like today.
Unfortunately, after the first half, The Jungle spirals
Although remembered for its critique and exposure of the meat packing industry, the novel is really focused on socialism and social change. How fitting, considering the fact that The Jungle helped spur the movement toward a "better" system of food regulation.
A good read and a good story; sad, enlightening, frightening, and still relevant today.
The story is described in the introduction of the copy with this cover as being rather thin and superfluous to its intent to expose the plight of
It is always noted that this book spawned reforms in the meatpacking industry not over the cost of human suffering but just the unwholesome product that was exposed in the revolting manner in which the food was being produced.
If you haven't been that poor, and you read The Jungle,
....And then comes the end third, and our hero discovers communism, and the whole thing falls apart.
Two-thirds a powerful, painful book. One third a useless, painful rant.
On one level it is simply the story of an immigrant family trying to survive in a new country where they know nothing of the environment, the language, the customs, or the political and financial situations. All they know is they want a better life, a fuller life. Their innocence is heartbreaking as you follow these fictional characters along a path that was all too real for immigrants in Chicago at the time.
On another level, this novel actually changed something, not necessarily what the author intended, with his clear and hammering message for socialism near the end. But it managed to be part of the cause of the forming of stricter regulations on food production. It got to people. In fact I think in some ways it still gets to people. And that is journalism and writing at its finest.
Upton Sinclair managed to reveal the harsh and horrible realities of factories in the early 1900's, while immortalizing the strength and determination of men, women, and children who would and did do anything to survive in the some of the most disgusting and demeaning conditions imaginable.
The novel ends in a deus ex machina fashion, and
This is a classic American novel that should be read. Be aware that there are racial epithets and prejudice included in the novel.