The Jungle

The Jungle Upton Sinclairs The Jungle is the story of a Lithuanian family that immigrates from their home city in Lithuania to the city of Chicago. The novel begins with the strong description of a wedding in which Ona Lukoszaite and Jurgis Rudkus are united in Holy Matrimony. The two of them then move to Chicago. Soon after the wedding, Ona and Jurgis have many great debts to pay due to both the wedding and a large debt that Onas father left them after he died. Due to Jurgis large size and strong will he found a job in Chicago within only a half an hour of waiting in the unemployment line.

Back in the newlyweds hometown of Lithuania, Ona and Jurgis family anticipated a move to America. America uses the image of the American Dream to lure immigrants to this land of opportunity. The family desperately desires higher wages and true freedom. For months and months, Jurgis works very hard to pay for the families travel to Ona and Jurgis new hometown, Chicago. When the family finally makes it to America, their funds are very low. They met with a well off man named Jokubas Szedvilas who placed the family in a run down youth hostel.

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Jokubas takes the family to the meatpacking factory. He makes jokes about the sanitation of the operation (due only to the lack of quality of the meat). The family finds an advertisement for a housing complex that is very cheap. They talk to a real estate agent and they go see the housing complex. The houses arent as big and luxurious as they are pictured in the advertisement, but the price is right.

The real estate agent swindles them, and they are pulled into the contract. Sinclair emphasizes the corruption of upper class society during this era. Jurgis father, Dede Antanas, is promised a job by a grubby worker, but only if he pays that worker one third of his wages. He takes the job despite the disgusting working conditions and his low pay. Jurgis is a very hard worker. He is the only person in the meat plant that doesnt complain. He doesnt think much of the other workers.

He feels that they never get any work done, and all they do is gripe. Marija, Onas cousin and Jonas, Onas step brother, both get jobs, but neither one holds them for very long. From there things take a turn for the worst. The meat packing factories prove to be very unsanitary. Animal fetuses and even human corpses were processed, packaged, and distributed to the country.

Working conditions became even worse for Jurgis, and after both his wife and child die, he left his job and family. Jurgis, now struggling more and more for money, turns to crime. The slums of Chicago show great contrast between the upper class and the underprivileged. The majority of the immigrant society possess very little money. Jurgis, an underprivileged person, must make his money illegally. He wanders the city aimlessly taking continuous criticism from the upper class of Chicago.

He returned home to find that Onas stepmothers child, Stanislovas, who once had a great fear of the cold after a frostbite incident, has tragically been eaten alive by a pack of rats on the job. He also finds out that his cousin in law Marija has become a whore to make money for herself. Jurgis tries to convince her to give it up, but she become addicted to morphine and she depends on the money. Jurgis life has hit a dead end. He only finds light when he hears a political speaker involved with the Socialist party.

He feels that an oversized proportion of a government is the only thing to uplift people of his kind. Back then, in the United States, being poor was a terrible crime in its self. I believe that these people looked toward a more Socialistic government because this type of government would take some of the power from the upper class and would give it to the poor. These people were working terrible shifts in horrible working conditions. If they were born poor they would remain that way unless they really got lucky, the same as Jokubas Szedvilas did.

A Socialistic style government would average the monopoly of power between the two classes. I dont think that Upton Sinclair wrote this book to really set off the meat market (though that what some of the main focus of the book was on), but rather to emphasize the poor circumstances of the lower class. But without Upton Sinclairs ideas, the meat market could have remained in the state that it held back then. History Reports.


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